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Friday, December 11, 2009

A Season of Gifts, written by Richard Peck. Dial, Penguin Group (Canada), 2009. $21.00 ages 12 and up

"So we Barnharts 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.”

Anyone who has ever met Grandma Dowdel will never forget her! In the third book about this spunky old woman we, once again, enjoy the storytelling brilliance of Richard Peck. He regales us with the trials and tribulations of Bob Barnhart and his family. They are new to their midwest town and struggling to find acceptance. His father is the new preacher in a church with few parishoners, and Bob becomes the target of the town bullies. Grandma Dowdel is their rough and tough nearest neighbor, with a kind heart that few people see. She is not about to let town 'vagrants' harm this new family. Times gone by have never been so much fun! I laughed out loud through much of the reading and will be using this book in upcoming book talks and workshops. I have earmarked many passages to be read again.

The Christmas part of the book does not take place until near the end; but, in the true spirit of the season the gifts are given from the time the family arrives and most come through the kind and generous heart of Grandma Dowdel. If you want to share a real 'gift' of the season, look for this book. It may then lead you to the other wonderful story collections by the prolific and very talented Richard Peck. You are sure to become an ardent fan!

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