A Long Way From Chicago


Richard Peck

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How many of you have ever spent a summer away from home? Where did you go? Who did you stay with?

Well, this story is about a brother and sister, Joey and Mary Alice, who spend a couple of summers with their Grandma Dowdel. They think grandma's quiet town will be no match for Chicago, where there is always something going on and something to do. But Grandma Dowdel isn't just your typical grandmother. Boy, are Joey and Mary Alice ever in for the surprise of their lives!

This is how just another typical day with grandma is: they are all heading toward town for another one of the town's many celebrations: (Read page. 40) "We trooped out into the morning" to end of pg. 43 "You should have seen-" If you want more adventures with this not-so-typical grandmother, read A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck.

Discussion questions

  1. Do you know anyone who acts like Joey? What is it like being around them?
  2. Describe Grandma? What kind of a person was she?
  3. This novel is made up of several short stories, one for each summer that Joey and Mary Alice visited Grandma. What did you like about this short story approach?
  4. Which story was your favorite and why?
  5. Does Grandma tell lies or stories? What's the difference between the two?
  6. How do Mary Alice and Joey change over the years? How does the town change?
  7. Why do you think Grandma takes care of Aunt Puss?
  8. Grandma often tells people that Mary Alice and Joey are, "from Chicago, so they've seen everything." Is this true? Or do they see more in the country than they could in the city?
  9. Why did Grandma really enter the county fair pie contest?
  10. In the beginning of the book, Joey says that Grandma "wasn't what you'd call a popular woman." (pg. 5). Is this true? How does Grandma play a part in town life?
  11. What have you read that is similar to this book?
  12. This book is a Newbery Honor book. What about it makes you think it is Newbery worthy?

If you liked this book try

  • Backwater by Joan Bauer
  • Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen
  • Missing May by Patricia MacLachlan
  • My Louisiana Sky by Kimberly Willis Holt
  • Sun and Spoon by Kevin Henkes
  • The Trolls by Polly Horvath


Bread and butter pickles, belly busting pancakes, old-fashioned canned applesauce.

Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.