A Season of Gifts
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that teens smoke and drink, and one gets pregnant, though none of this is described. There's a wonderful message in this book about giving.
What's the story?
In this standalone sequel to A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder, it's now 20 years later, the '50s, and Mrs. Dowdel has new neighbors -- a poor preacher and his family. As his son, Bob, tells the story, Mrs. Dowdel takes some getting used to. But in a series of vignettes both comic and moving, they find that this cantankerous and eccentric old woman enriches their lives and those of many others in the town.
Is it any good?
Richard Peck has had one of the longest and most successful careers in children's literature and, reading this, it's easy to see why. He just gets better and better. A SEASON OF GIFTS shows clearly that there's really no one else with Peck's remarkable combination of gifts. He has the gift of Twain, a humorist whose comedy is both intelligent and moving. He has the gift of Kipling, a craftsman of razor-sharp prose in which every word is carefully chosen for maximum effect. And he has the gift of Rowling, a constructor of intricate and tightly woven plots.
Peck employs his remarkable gifts in the service of a character unique in children's books, a field in which children are almost always the heroes. Here the main character, moving force, and heroine is a crabby 90-year-old, tough as a goat, with nothing warm or fuzzy in her demeanor at all. In Peck's world, adults are still in charge and wiser than children, and children grow through their relationships with intelligent and caring grown-ups. Imagine that! This is a treasure and a delight.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the gifts Mrs. Dowdel gives. Can you find them all?
To whom does she give them, and why? Does she receive any in return?
Can you think of any gifts like Mrs. Dowdel's that people in your own life have given? Have you ever worked behind the scenes for someone else's benefit?
Why does Mrs. Dowdel act the way she does? If she is doing such good things for people, why doesn't she act warm and kind?
What do you admire about Mrs. Dowdel?