In A Long Way from Chicago, Richard Peck recounts the experiences of a young brother and sister growing up in the 1930’s. The novel of Newbery Honor acclaim depicts the people of small-town Illinois, where Chicago-bred Joey and Mary Alice Dowdel spend a series of summers. Chicago is a rough place during the Great Depression, but visits with Grandma Dowdel of Illinois are far from tame. Over the years, Grandma shows her grit and wit by curbing the local troublemakers, winning a pie contest with a big payoff, saving her friend’s home from foreclosure, and outwitting the town sheriff. Not wanting to be outdone by Grandma, Mary Alice helps orchestrate an elopement, while Joey falls in love with airplanes, and joins the army air corps in adulthood. In their years with Grandma Dowdel, Joey and Mary Alice develop a strong bond with their grandmother, and a deep appreciation for her neighbors. Middle school readers will enjoy this episodic novel of a memorable era in American history, full of down-home charm, and unforgettable characters. The sequel, A Year Down Under, is also a noteworthy read, having won the Newbery Medal for children’s literature.