Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Year Down Yonder

A Year Down Yonder, by Richard Peck was the most recent book that I read and reviewed for The Newbery Project. It was funny, it was touching, and it was filled with letter-perfect descriptions of the place I grew up. A little Googling reveals that Richard Peck actually grew up in Decatur, Illinois, and that "Grandma Dowdel's town" was partially based on Cerro Gordo, Illinois. But I'll bet that Richard Peck visited Utica sometime, given the burgoo and the "Souvenir of Starved Rock" pillow in the book.

I'm waiting to get A Long Way from Chicago from These are books that I want my children to enjoy and have on their bookshelves for years.

I liked the introduction to these books on the publisher's site - I think that Peck wrote it:

Young readers who live in age-segregated suburbs need the wisdom, and the wit, of elders. After all, this is a young generation who no longer even have to write thank-you notes for gifts from grandparents. They rob themselves of their own histories and are once again at the mercy of each other.

But stories are better than that. They champion the individual, not the mass movement. They mix up the generations. They provide a continuity growing hard to come by. And laughter. Best of all, laughter.


Sandy D. said...

I didn't actually grow up in Utica, though my great-grandmother lived there. I grew up in Ottawa, which is up the (Illinois) river about 8 miles from Utica and Starved Rock State Park.

"Dootz" said...

I've never been to Utica, but I did take a car ride during college (early 80s) up to Fulton, through Syracuse, and stopping in Liverpool to get a coney at Heid's.


Sandy D. said...

Sorry dootz, this is Utica, IL, not Utica, NY.

Babbleramamel said...

Ben has this on his reading list for the summer--it's a highly recommended book from EPGY--so I'm thrilled to hear this.

Melanie from Sybermoms