Saturday, October 27, 2012

Peck, Richard. (2002). Fair weather. New York: Penguin.

Thirteen-year-old Rosie Beckett has never strayed further from her family's farm than a horse can pull a cart. Then a letter from Aunt Euterpe arrives, and everything changes. It's 1893, the year of the World's Columbian Exposition -- the "wonder of the age" -- otherwise known as the Chicago World's Fair. Tucked inside the pages of the letter are train tickets to Chicago, because Aunt Euterpe is inviting the Becketts to come for a visit and go to the fair! For Rosie, it's a summer of marvels -- a summer she'll never forget.

Just the opposite of A Year Down Under, this book has the country mouse going to the city. I enjoyed this book as much as the other books by Richard Peck, especially because of the historical names and places interwoven throughout the story and the hysterical characters.

Peck, Richard. (2005). The river between us. New York: Penguin.

The year is 1861. Civil war is imminent and Tilly Pruitt's brother, Noah, is eager to go and fight on the side of the North. With her father long gone, Tilly, her sister, and their mother struggle to make ends meet and hold the dwindling Pruitt family together. Then one night a mysterious girl arrives on a steamboat bound for St. Louis. Delphine is unlike anyone the small river town has even seen. Mrs. Pruitt agrees to take Delphine and her dark, silent traveling companion in as boarders. No one in town knows what to make of the two strangers, and so the rumors fly. Is Delphine's companion a slave? Could they be spies for the South? Are the Pruitts traitors? (Barnes and Noble overview)

When I was in junior high and high school I read mostly historical fiction for pleasure. Witch of Blackbird Pond and Withering Heights were two of my favorites. If this had been around during that time I would have picked this as one of my favorites as well. The plot of mystery, history, and love story all interwoven was intriguing. I can see recommending this book to those students who enjoy historical fiction or enjoy reading about the civil war era.

Peck, Richard. (2006). The teacher's funeral. New York: Penguin.

Russell Culver is fifteen in 1904, and he's raring to leave his tiny Indiana farm town for the endless sky of the Dakotas. To him, school has been nothing but a chain holding him back from his dreams. Maybe now that his teacher has passed on, they'll shut the school down entirely and leave him free to roam.

I enjoyed the twist this book provided by having Russell's sister Tansy become the new teacher. I work in a rural school district and many of the students are familiar with having an older sibling be the caretaker for various reasons.  Wish I had read this book when I was teaching older kids though as I think they would have connected to the plot and characters. I work in a second and third grade school library and I think this book is a little above their reading ability and appreciation.