A Season of Gifts

A Season of Gifts

by Richard Peck


$8.23 $8.99 Save 8% Current price is $8.23, Original price is $8.99. You Save 8%. View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Thursday, October 17


One of the most adored characters in children's literature is the eccentric, forceful, bighearted Grandma Dowdel, star of the Newbery Award-winning A Year Down Yonder and Newbery Honor-winning A Long Way from Chicago. And it turns out that her story isn't over. It's now 1958, and a new family has moved in next door to Mrs. Dowdel: a minister and his wife and kids. Soon Mrs. Dowdel will work her particular brand of charm on all of them, and they will quickly discover that the last house in town might also be the most vital.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142417294
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 10/14/2010
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 145,613
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile: 690L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

RICHARD PECK (1934-2018) was born in Decatur, Illinois and lived in New York City for nearly 50 years. The acclaimed author of 35 novels for children and young adults, he won the Newbery Medal for A Year Down Yonder, a Newbery Honor for A Long Way from Chicago, the Scott O’Dell Award for The River Between Us, the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Are You in the House Alone?, a Boston Globe-Horn BookAward Honor for The Best Man, and the Christopher Medal for The Teacher’s Funeral. He was the first children’s author ever to have been awarded a National Humanities Medal, and was twice a National Book Award Finalist.  

Read an Excerpt

Mrs. Dowdel

One evening we were just settling around the supper table. There were some slices of ham from somewhere. Mother had pulled together a potato salad out of three potatoes. We’d just joined hands. Dad began, “For what we are about to receive—”

When an almighty explosion rocked the room. Our kitchen clock stopped, and the box of matches jumped off the stove. Every nesting bird in the county took flight.

Russians, we thought, and without a Civil Defense bomb shelter for miles. Another explosion erupted and bounced off every house from here to the grain elevator.

Ruth Ann slid off her chair and was at the kitchen door. We all followed. Now Mrs. Dowdel, gray in the gloaming, loomed out from around her cobhouse. In one of her hands hung a double-barreled shotgun, an old-time Winchester 21, from the look of it. Both barrels smoked.

In her other fist she carried a pair of headless rats. They hung by their tails, and they were good-sized, almost cat-sized.

She lumbered up to her cauldron and swung the rats onto the white embers beneath. As a family, we turned away just as they burst into flame.

Also by Richard Peck



Are You in the House Alone?

Bel-Air Bambi and the Mall Rats

Blossom Culp and the Sleep of Death

Close Enough to Touch

Don’t Look and It Won’t Hurt

The Dreadful Future of Blossom Culp

Dreamland Lake

Fair Weather

Father Figure

The Ghost Belonged to Me

Ghosts I Have Been

The Great Interactive Dream Machine

Here Lies the Librarian

The Last Safe Place on Earth

A Long Way from Chicago

Lost in Cyberspace

On the Wings of Heroes

Princess Ashley

Remembering the Good Times

Representing Super Doll

The River Between Us

Secrets of the Shopping Mall

Strays Like Us

The Teacher’s Funeral

Those Summer Girls I Never Met

Through a Brief Darkness

Unfinished Portrait of Jessica

Voices After Midnight

A Year Down Yonder



London Holiday

New York Time

This Family of Women


Past Perfect, Present Tense


Monster Night at Grandma’s House


Anonymously Yours

Invitations to the World


A Season of Gifts

The Last House in Town


Locked and Loaded

You could see from here the house was haunted. Its crooked old lightning rods pointed bony fingers at the sky. It hadn’t had a lick of paint since VJ Day, maybe the war before that. A porch sagged off the side. The kitchen screen door hung from a hinge. Only the snowball bushes crowding its foundations seemed to hold the place up.

At night, lights moved from room to room. Every evening just at dusk a light bobbed down the walk to the cobhouse and the privy behind, and back again.

My little sister, Ruth Ann, couldn’t take her eyes off the place. She’d rest her chin on the windowsill and plant her nose on screen wire. What else did she have to do?

“It’s like Halloween here in August,” she’d say. “I betcha there are spooks inside that house.”

“No,” Mother said behind her. “No spooks.”

“What do you think, Bobby?” I was Ruth Ann’s big brother, so she thought I knew things. “Spooks or not?”

Over her head, Mother gave me one of her direct looks, so I said, “Probably not.”

But even when Ruth Ann took her hula hoop and her doll buggy out on our front walk, she was all eyes. She’d watch the house while she revolved in her hoop and rocked her doll. She spent a lot of time outside, hoping a friend would happen to her.

So we Barnharts had moved in next door to a haunted house, if a house can be haunted by a living being. But the old lady who lived over there had to be just this side of the grave with one foot in it. She looked older than the town. But she was way too solid to be a ghost. You sure couldn’t see through her. You could barely see around her.

A long straight garden grew down this side of her property. Every blazing morning she’d tramp off her back porch and down her garden rows with a hoe humped on her shoulder. Her straw hat looked like she’d swiped it off a mule. It hid her face except for the chins. She worked right through high noon in a fog of flies, hoeing, yanking weeds, and talking to her tomato plants.

The heat slowed her some, and the flies. But she could be amazingly light on her big pins. We’d already seen her take a broom and swat a Fuller Brush man off her porch. She kept right at his heels till he was off her property.

As everybody knew, she didn’t neighbor and went to no known church. She was not only real cranky, but well-armed. Word was that she had a regular arsenal of weaponry behind her woodbox. They said it was like Fort Leonard Wood behind her stove. They said she was locked and loaded.

She had to be pushing ninety, so rumors had grown up around her. One was that her property was on top of an ancient Kickapoo burying grounds, and that’s spooky right there.

Only a ragged row of fleshy red canna flowers separated her garden from our yard. “You children stay on this side of the cannas,” Mother said. “Let’s let sleeping dogs lie.”

Mother didn’t have to worry about me. I was a boy, but not that brave. I wouldn’t have set a toe over that line. And she didn’t mean my big sister, Phyllis, who was sulking upstairs over having to start high school in a new town. Mother meant Ruth Ann. She was hard to keep track of unless she was following you around.

“Remember who we are,” Mother said. “And we’re new here. All eyes are upon us.”

It wasn’t going to be the kind of town that rolls out the welcome mat. Still, a few people brought us things to eat just to see us up close. On a good day, an angel food cake. Moore’s IGA store sent us out some half-price coupons and a sample size of Rinso soap. But Moore’s was cash-and-carry, and we didn’t have any cash.

Toward the end of our first week, somebody left five dandy ears of sweet corn on our porch. They were half silked to show the pearly kernels. But unknown hands had left the corn. They couldn’t be from next door, since no corn grew in Mrs. Dowdel’s garden.


Revival Dust

I tried to make August last because September, and school, didn’t look good. We were not only newcomers, but we were P.K.s—preacher’s kids. So everybody’d be gunning for us, and we’d be living in a fishbowl.

But not yet, not in August. Cut us this much slack. Let’s get settled here in this new house before we have to take on the town. The house was okay. I had my own room.

“Let’s give thanks we have an indoor bathroom,” Dad said. The town was still crawling with privies and pumps, though our house and the house next door were about the only ones without television antennas. Around here you needed an antenna twice as high as your house, if you had television.

Mother stood over Ruth Ann at our side window, gazing out past the peeling house next door to open, empty country.

“I take back every bad thing I ever thought about Terre Haute,” Mother often said in a far-off voice.

We saw a lot of Mrs. Dowdel next door. There was a lot of her to see. But she never seemed to see us back. She didn’t have time. On a circle of burned grass in her yard an iron pot hung from a tripod. She seemed to be pulping down apples for apple butter over a white-hot fire. She stirred an ancient paddle with holes in it. Once in a while she’d stand back to mop up under the mule hat. Then back to stirring she’d go, two-fisted on the long paddle.

“I betcha that’s witch’s brew in that cauldron,” Ruth Ann said, very interested. “I betcha Mrs. Dowdel has warts where you can’t see.”

“There are no witches,” Mother said. “There are only old ladies who prize their privacy.”

Mrs. Dowdel weeded like a wild woman. Only when somebody passed on the road would she stand up and glance that way, running a hand down her back. Never waving. There was a bunch of boys in town, big ugly ones. They’d tramp past, heading for the crick every afternoon, punching each other. Mrs. Dowdel always watched them out of sight. She seemed to take an interest in them, but not a friendly interest. Then she’d have several sharp things to say to her tomatoes.

One evening we were just settling around the supper table. There were some slices of ham from somewhere. Mother had pulled together a potato salad out of three potatoes. We’d just joined hands. Dad began, “For what we are about to receive—”

When an almighty explosion rocked the room. Our kitchen clock stopped, and the box of matches jumped off the stove. Every nesting bird in the county took flight.

Russians, we thought, and without a Civil Defense bomb shelter for miles. Another explosion erupted and bounced off every house from here to the grain elevator.

Ruth Ann slid off her chair and was at the kitchen door. We all followed. Now Mrs. Dowdel, gray in the gloaming, loomed out from around her cobhouse. In one of her hands hung a double-barreled shotgun, an old-time Winchester 21, from the look of it. Both barrels smoked.

In her other fist she carried a pair of headless rats. They hung by their tails, and they were good-sized, almost cat-sized.

She lumbered up to her cauldron and swung the rats onto the white embers beneath. As a family, we turned away just as they burst into flame.

“This is why the Methodist Conference stuck us in this house, this so-called parsonage,” Phyllis said. “Who else would live next door to her? I hate this town. I can’t tell you how much.”

*  *  *

Headless rats darted across my dreams through those nights. By day I helped Dad down at the church. There’d been a church building to spare when the two bunches of United Brethren united again. They naturally went with the better church building, brick. We got the other one. And it looked more like a corncrib than anything else—one puff of wind from a pile of kindling. Somebody’d shot out all the windows, and the roof was a sieve.

Dad had already killed a hog snake coiled in the choir loft. He and the snake met up by chance, and all Dad could think of to do was drop a box of hymnals on its head.

And if you don’t like spiders, this wasn’t your kind of place.

We kept busy. I sanded and shellacked the pews. Dad fitted the windows with plastic sheeting. There wasn’t money for plate glass. There wasn’t money for anything. We were eating off our own front porch.

Dad sang hymns while we worked: “Stand up! Stand up for Jesus.” Peppy hymns. He had a fine baritone voice, only a little wobbly on the high notes. I’d jump in with some harmony for him, though I was still pretty much a soprano. “We must not! We must not! We must not suffer loss!” we sang, ringing a rafter or two. I didn’t think we were half bad. But Dad was a worried man. He could do about anything with his hands. He had big hands. But it was going to take more than hammer and nails.

Over in Terre Haute he’d been assistant pastor at Third Methodist. This was the first pulpit all his own. It was going to be make-it-or-break-it for Dad here. And we hadn’t seen many of those Methodists we’d heard were waiting for The Word and a preacher to bring it.

Still, we had time to get the place squared away. August was the big tent-show revival month. You couldn’t get a church off the ground until the revival dust settled.

A sign appeared out by Mrs. Dowdel’s mailbox:


A tent the size of Ringling Brothers’ big top rose in the park uptown, the bald ground between the business block and the Norfolk & Western tracks. A giant banner stretched high between the tent poles, reading:


The number one evangelist of the sawdust circuit was coming for a week of preaching. He was Delmer “Gypsy” Piggott, well-known in his time, though his time was running out. They called him the Texas Tornado for his preaching style. He’d built a big tabernacle at Del Rio.

We didn’t go that Monday night. Local preachers and their families didn’t. It wasn’t our kind of worship.

Besides, money in the revival’s collection plate was money that never made it to ours. In a week Gypsy Piggott could scare a lot of money out of a town.

But the revival came to us. Cars and trucks parked past our house and out of town. You could hear everything from here, four blocks from the tent. Mother tied on a fresh apron, and we sat out on our front porch, hearing the gospel quartette, four high sopranos in some very close harmony, backed up by a blare of trumpets. And they could belt out a hymn:

Don’t give me no newfangled religion,

Slick as a Cadillac’s fin;

Just give me that old-time religion

And the way things was back then.

Mother sighed from the porch swing.

Then Gypsy Piggott climbed onto his pulpit. They had a dynamite speaker system. The whole county could stay home and hear every word. His fist on the Bible was like an earth tremor. That collection plate rang like an alarm bell.

He didn’t mince words either. He had us sinners in the fiery pit before you knew where you were. We were all on the wrong path, and Gypsy Piggott knew where it led. Liquor and bad women were mentioned. His language was pretty rough, and he had no grammar to speak of.

Mother sent Ruth Ann into the house, for all the good that would do. “It’s what people want around here,” Phyllis said. “That’s what they’re like. Why are we even here? Nobody’ll want a real church. I hate this podunk town.”

*  *  *

Late that night I was jolted awake. It had to be midnight when Mrs. Dowdel’s screen door banged two or three times. Feet scuffled on her back porch.

My window looked down on her place. Moonlight was slick on her tar-paper roof. Yellow light fell from the kitchen windows across her porch floor.

Stuff began to fly off the porch and bounce in her yard. Suitcases? Trumpet cases? More came. White moths seemed to flutter across the grass, but it might have been sheet music.

I couldn’t see how many people were on the porch. But it was Mrs. Dowdel who barged through them and outside. She wore a nightgown the size of the revival tent. Cold moonlight hit her white hair loose in the night breeze. She held something high and poured from it onto the ground.

“‘WINE IS A MOCKER, STRONG DRINK IS RAGING,’” she bellowed into the night. “Proverbs. 20:1. You could look it up. I don’t have hard liquor in my house. It goes, and so do you.”

She seemed to pour strong drink out on the grass. Now she hauled off and threw the bottle. She had an arm on her. The bottle glinted in moonlight, hit her cobhouse roof, and rolled off.

“Now, now, Mrs. Dowdel,” a voice said, “calm yourself. ‘A man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry.’ Ecclesiastes. 8:15.”

I’d have known that voice in the fiery pit. It was the Texas Tornado, Delmer “Gypsy” Piggott. Now I could hear Mother and Dad stirring around in their room.

My nose was flat to screen wire. “GET OFF MY PLACE,” Mrs. Dowdel bellowed, “and take these . . . sopranos with you. Trumpets, strumpets—everybody out.”

More shoe-scuffling came from the porch, and the peck of high heels. A sob and some squealing. The gospel quartette milled.

“You’ve rented your last rooms in this town, you two-faced old goat,” Mrs. Dowdel thundered. The whole town was wide-awake now. “Hit the road.”

“Dad-burn it, Mrs. Dowdel,” the Texas Tornado whined, “we done paid you out for the whole week with ready money. Cash on the barrelhead.”

“I’m about a squat jump away from a loaded Winchester 21,” Mrs. Dowdel replied, “and I’m tetchy as a bull in fly time.”

She turned back against a tide of sopranos and stalked into her house. Whether she was going for her gun or to bed nobody could know. The figures milled some more. A suitcase came open. But then they started for the road. A big Lincoln Continental was parked out there, washed by moonbeams. Doors banged, and the Lincoln gunned away, shaking off the dust of this town.

A room away, Mother sighed.

Then silence fell upon the listening town, and the moon slid behind a cloud. Somewhere farther out in the fields a swooping owl pounced on squealing mice. But they were faint squeaks, and far-off.


The Boy Next Door

Dad and I had to keep wringing out our shirts all that next day. It was a hundred in the shade, hotter inside the church. He sent me home early.

As I came past the park, they were already taking down the big revival tent—folding the tent and stealing away. They’d only managed to pass the collection plate that first night, thanks to Mrs. Dowdel. Now the Texas Tornado was having to touch down somewhere else.

People may have hated to miss the rest of revival week. But telling each other how Gypsy Piggott was chased off was interesting and some consolation. I never knew anyplace where news traveled faster. It wasn’t as slow a town as it looked.


Excerpted from "A Season of Gifts"
by .
Copyright © 2010 Richard Peck.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

-This is one of Peck+s best novels yet-and that+s saying something.+-Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

A Season of Gifts 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Mother-Daughter-Book-Club More than 1 year ago
Grandma Dowdel's back, only this time she's known as Mrs. Dowdel to the Methodist preacher's family that just moved in next door. The family, which includes three children, has been relocated from Terre Haute, Indiana to take over what is to be a new Methodist church but what is now a run-down building with no windows, a deteriorating roof and no congregation in a small Illinois town. As family members work to adjust to a new life, gruff old Mrs. Dowdel next door seems to know exactly what each needs. Bob, who tells the story, is the middle child on the verge of puberty. He's the easy target of bullies and in need of confidence as well as friends. Phyllis, fourteen going on twenty, is appalled at having to start high school in a place where she knows no one. Her obsession with everything Elvis leads her to take up with an unsavory character and start lying to her parents about where she's going and what she's doing. Six-year-old Ruth Ann is starting first grade, and she's searching for someone to look up to. The dad, of course, needs a congregation, and the mom needs help keeping them all functioning well. Fans of A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder will be happy to read more about Grandmas Dowdel's schemes to influence her small town and the family next door for the better. She's just a gruff as ever, but older now. The gifts she bestows are not the kind you can wrap and put under a Christmas tree, but they are the kind no receiver would seek to return. Peck is a master of subtle storytelling, letting the reader reach conclusions about the characters along the way. He's also superb at bringing bygone times to life, and in A Season of Gifts he deftly captures life in a small town during the late 1950s. I read this book aloud to the whole family, which includes my husband and two teen daughters. We all loved it, something rare for the four of us with our different tastes in books. I highly recommend it for family reading as well as for children aged nine and up.
pianokam More than 1 year ago
Richard Peck brings together Grandma Dowdel and the kooky castmates that live in that small Illinois town to life again! I love that he wrote a third book as a follow-up to "A Year Down Yonder" and "A Long Way From Chicago." I grew up in a small town in northern Indiana and can imagine all these escapades occuring just as Richard Peck writes. I highly recommend these books (as a Mom and educator) for your children - and for YOU as a parent. They are imagnative and fun :0)
pacollins on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Grandma Dowdel, who helped Richard Peck win both a Newbery Honor and Mewbery Medal is back and this time she works her magic on her new neighbors. The Barnhart's have moved to this "podunk" town so dad can take over as the minister of the Methodist Church. Classic Peck-style down home humor.
TigerLMS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Peck's distinctive storytelling style rings on every page of A Season of Gifts, the story of a young man who moves into a small midwest town so his dad can try to revive-- practically start-- a Methodist church. A preacher's kid, which of course almost begs for bullies to pick on him. As with his previous books, there are hilarious situations that anyone who's been a kid can relate to-- even if modern kids can't imagine what life was like 50+ years ago (1958). The cover and title suggest the book is about Christmastime. It is not, or at least the first two thirds isn't. But that's alright-- the season of gifts arrives soon enough and the story is a delight to read. Much like Jean Shepard's In God We Trust, which contained the elements of a story that became the holiday favorite A Christmas Story, Peck's A Season of Gifts is a funny, wonderful look at growing up in a time gone by.
asomers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love Grandma Dowdel! If she's in the book I know I'm going to love it.
francescadefreitas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I listened to the audio book version, and the episodic format was perfect for nightly sessions. A preacher's family move to a small town and try and make their way. This was a little slow and quiet, like the town, but Eventually I was caught up in the tribulations of this family. And there were some beautiful turns of phrase, like little Ruth-Anne outside 'waiting for a friend to happen'. And when the 14-year old narrator drives the car to get a Christmas tree, I was laughing out loud.I'd give this to fans of family stories, and it would make a very good read aloud to share with tweens.
Whisper1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a delightful book! Winner of both a Newbery Medal for A Year Down Yonder '2001 and a Newbery Honor for A Long Way From Chicago, Peck is a masterful craftsmen.Grandma Dowdel was a hilarious, gritty, salt of the earth, independent character in both of Peck's Newbery winners and she returns again in A Season of Gifts.The setting is rural Illinois and the year is 1958. Young Bob Barhart and his family are new neighbors of Grandma Dowdel. Bob's father is the new Methodist minister.There is nothing earth shattering about the book. The story line can be perceived as mundane. But, the beautiful, heartwarming way in which Peck writes each sentence is simply a joy to behold.Sitting on the deck, feeling the gentle summer breeze while reading this soft, cozy, wonderful book was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
EdGoldberg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Grandma Dowdel is back to her old shenanigans in Richard Peck¿s A Season of Gifts. This sequel to A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder takes place in 1958. Twelve year old Bob Barnhart and his family have moved to town from Terre Haute, right next door to Grandma Dowdel. In 1958 Elvis Presley is drafted and Bob¿s father, a Methodist preacher is assigned to a new church in a tiny ¿podunk¿ Illinois town.Bob¿s initiation into town society is a dunking in the local `crick¿ and being hog tied in Grandma Dowdel¿s privy. Of course, Grandma Dowdel finds Bob, naked as a jaybird, hanging in her privy, almost as if in a spider web.Ruth-Ann, Bob¿s ten-year-old sister is entranced by Grandma Dowdel and together they become ¿partners in crime¿. She begins taking on Grandma¿s traits, such as pushing her non-existent glasses up to the bridge of her nose. It¿s Bob¿s mother, however, who takes the cake, sitting in Grandma¿s yard with a cocked shotgun on her lap.Richard Peck has the ability to take you back to the good old days, even if they weren¿t necessarily that good and you weren¿t even born. His characters are unique in every way. The description of Grandma¿s wide girth, her old wrinkled friends and her hijinx will have you smiling, if not laughing. It does seem, however, that Grandma has mellowed a bit from A Long Way from Chicago. But that¿s as it should be. She¿s umpteen hundred years old. ..or so she seems.Having read all three books in the series, I¿d start at the beginning and work through this latest book. They¿re fast reads and you¿ll walk away in a much better mood than you were in prior to reading the books. Just don¿t trespass on Grandma Dowdel¿s property. She¿s still a good aim with that shotgun.
bell7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bob Barnhart is a preacher's kid; he and his family have moved to a new town where his father is going to be a Methodist minister. No one in the town seems ready to lay out the welcome mat. In fact, they seem downright eccentric, especially their next door neighbor Mrs. Dowdel.Readers who have already discovered A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder will enjoy revisiting beloved characters from a new point of view, and readers who have read neither will not lose out a whit. Richard Peck delivers yet another hilarious tale, memorable characters, and a young boy who learns quite a lot about the gifts humans can give to each other.
prkcs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Relates the surprising gifts bestowed on twelve-year-old Bob Barnhart and his family, who have recently moved to a small Illinois town in 1958, by their larger-than-life neighbor, Mrs. Dowdel.
wortklauberlein on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The sequel to the sequel of "A Long Way From Chicago" is itself a gift to fans of the earlier Richard Peck books about Mrs. Dowdel, the tough as black walnuts grandmother who metes out an original kind of justice to the citizens of a downstate Illinois town.This third book is not as gut-busting hilarious as the original and is more overtly sentimental, but the separate chapters make fine read-aloud stories and the entire book is a warm blanket on a winter's night.Readers who wonder what happened to Joey, the grandson who narrated the first book, will be somewhat disappointed. And those hoping for more books about Mrs. Dowdel may be saddened to find that many years have already passed since "A Year Down Yonder." It is now 1958, and how much longer can even this larger-than-life woman keep on going?
Suzieqkc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really like the idea of an older woman being the centerpiece in this story. Mrs. Dowdel gives 'gifts' that can't be measured by size or price to the young family who moves into her neighborhood. The family's children, young Ruth Ann, Bob and teenager Phyllis, all learn something from the older woman. It was such a cozy piece of fiction--almost seemed like the people really existed.
baystateRA on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ron McLarty lends the perfect voice to this short novel about new kids in a small town, in the form of a brief memoir about adolescence in the 'fifties. I didn't realize this was the third one the author has written about this family and their "interesting" neighbor, Mrs. Dowdel. This is a good one to read in the weeks leading up to Christmas, as it spans the season from the beginning of the school year through Christmas.
porch_reader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Being the new kid in town is hard enough, but sixth-grader Bob Barnhardt also has the challenges of being a PK (preacher's kid) and living next door to Mrs. Dowdel, a straight-talking widow who is armed with a rifle and not afraid to stand up to anyone in her small town. If you loved Mrs. Dowdel in A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder, you won't want to miss this book. Although Mrs. Dowdel tells the Barnhardt's straight out that she "doesn't neighbor," she still finds ways to come to the rescue of Bob, his two sisters, and even his dad. This feel-good story, which ends with the celebration of Christmas, is a great choice for this time of year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
moonstone-magic More than 1 year ago
This is book three of a trilogy BUT can be read as a stand alone book. This book is appropriate for anyone that understands the concept of good and bad behavior. Can maybe find a lesson in here for children. (Parents, read it first).
jln1017 More than 1 year ago
The third book from Richard Peck describing life in a small town with Grandma Dowdel (the first being "A Long Way From Chicago", the second, "A Year Down Yonder", both award winners) is told from the point of view of Bob, a young boy who, along with his family, including minister dad, mom, older sister Phyllis, and younger sister Ruth Ann, has moved in next door to Mrs. Dowdel. While not quite up to par, in my opinion, to the first two books, I still greatly enjoyed this one. This one is set in 1958, approximately 15 years after we last visited. We get a few brief mentions of Grandma's family that we met in the first two books, which was nice. Familiar characters, or at least their kin, make appearances in this book. We get to see how the town has grown and changed over the years (and in some cases, not changed at all). And, we get more of Grandma's hijinks and peculiar brand of good-heartedness. The only thing that keeps me from giving this book five stars like the first two is that it doesn't quite give the sense of innocence and realism the first two did. The first two felt like true stories that may actually have happened to the author/narrator as a young person and have simply garnered some embellishments over time. This book feels more like a story someone made up. A good story, but still, it doesn't quite get that ring of truth the first two did. In addition, in the first two stories we get to know Grandma Dowdel, to understand who she is, what she's like, and what her motivations are. We understand that underlying her actions is a sense of justice and integrity and generosity, and an appreciation for hard work. These things are revealed subtly and naturally through her actions and interactions in the first two books. In this latest book, these things felt a little more forced. Granted, these are really minor quibbles and come about only through comparison with the other two books, and otherwise, it is still a lovely book. A couple of notes about this book: 1) I don't recommend reading it as a stand alone. While it could, technically, be read on its own, you get to know Grandma Dowdel and her actions and motivations much better through the first two books, which allow you to come into this book understanding what she's like. Without that background, she may just come across as a loony old eccentric for most of this story. 2) Although it's called "A Season of Gifts", and the cover seems very Christmas-y, the book is not strictly a Christmas story, and could easly be read at any time of year. It starts in August, and continues on throughout the fall and into Christmas towards the end. So, while it certainly does make a lovely story to read around the holidays, it is really suitable for any time of year.
6thGradeReviewer More than 1 year ago
The Barnhart family has just moved from a nice township in Indiana to a small, isolated rural town in Illinois, not by choice, but because the head of the household, Reverend Barnhart, just received his first pulpit assignment. In addition to this change, the only house available to them is the house right next door to Grandma Dowdel, the rough old lady who "don't neighbor", best known as the ever-surprising heroine in A Year Down Yonder and A Long Way from Chicago, both written by Richard Peck. This family of five is not only "short on cash", but completely lacking in the ways of a tiny rural town and the people who live there. The children, fourteen year old Phyllis, an Elvis fanatic who acts like she is twenty, twelve year old Bob, a lonely boy with very big dreams and little hope of fulfilling them, and Ruth Ann, a six year old in her own world looking for a role model, fear the worst and see no hope in this small forsaken town. Yet, the Barnhart children gradually come to an unconscious realization that Mrs. Dowdel may be something more than that really old, strange, rough, country lady she appears to be. She has numerous tricks up her sleeve and a sense of humor all her own. This virtue filled, humorous fiction by Richard Peck will fill the reader's heart with joy and laughter. It made me look at myself again and again and ask myself "What do I do?" "What can I give?" Mr. Peck has wittingly filled this story with life lessons and numerable gifts that don't come in wrapping paper. I am sure there is a message in this book for any and all of its readers. I absolutely loved this book and have reread it four times. I highly recommend this read for anyone, ages nine to adult.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck was a very good book. This book helped me to realize a few things in addition to it being a nice, fun, easy-read. This book was the kind that had action but not so much that you couldn't just sit down with a warm blanket and some hot chocolate and enjoy it. One major thing that I agreed with in this book was that when you are doing something good and giving to someone else, you don't have to make it big, bold, and obvious; and that was something that Mrs. Dowdel and Ellen were good at. For example, when Ellen helped Mrs. Dowdel you wouldn't have known because she was so sneaky about it. Also, there were several things you had to follow throughout this book, including the sorority girls, the bad boys, the progress of the church, the reason the crowd was in the town at the time, and so much more. This book was awesome, and I really enjoyed it. CAR : )
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you have read "A Year Down Yonder" and "A Long Way from chicago" you will certainly want to read this book as well. It is kind of a way to say good bye to Grandma Dowdel. I enjoyed this book but missed the excitement and adventure of the other two books. This is told from a differnt person's point of view. The year this book takes place made me wonder about Grandma Dowdel's age...how old is she and how old was she in the other books written by Richard Peck. As an educator and parent I think these are great books for young people to read. My mom read these as well and loved them. So great for all ages. I believe the other two books with Grandma Dowdel would make great movies! She is a character like no other. It was fun to hear about her once more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Richard Peck does a wonderful job returning readers to visit with Grandma Dowdel. She is always the rough, tough older lady with a surprising soft spot. I love Mrs. Dowdel, her view of the world, and the way she handles issues that arise. This is a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TheTruth11 More than 1 year ago
This book was not enjoyable. It was boring and not apprehendable. I can't even tell you what it was about. I did not understand it. I would not recommend it!!!!!!!!