Pros: Entertaining, humorous and educational chapter book for ages 10 to adult.
Cons: Can't think of a single one.
I first became acquainted with the work of author Richard Peck after reading his juvenile chapter books A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder. You see, A Year Down Yonder beat out one of my most favorite books -- Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo for the 2001 Newbery Medal, and with a preconceived notion that Pecks books couldnt compare with DiCamillos, I decided to check them out for myself.
Ive been a Peck fan ever since. I was right Pecks and DiCamillos work dont really compare in the apples to apples sense. They have a different style; different stories to tell. I like them both, and so do my three daughters.
Last year when I heard Peck had written another novel, Fair Weather, I bought it right away.
Fair Weather: The Story
Thirteen-year-old Rosie Beckett has never ventured far from her familys simple life on a small Illinois farm. In 1893, Rosies life experiences have been limited, to say the least. She and her 17-year-old sister, Lottie, and their 7-year-old brother, Buster, havent had any adventures to speak of but all that changes forever with the arrival of a letter from Aunt Euterpe.
Aunt Euterpe is a wealthy widow who hasnt kept in close touch with her sisters family. Rosie, Lottie and Buster dont remember ever meeting her, but from their mother and grandfather theyve heard stories about how she left the farm years ago and started a new life for herself in Chicago. Euterpes letter surprises them all with four train tickets and an invitation for Mrs. Beckett and her children to come to Chicago for a visit. The Worlds Columbian Exposition the first Worlds Fair has much to offer by way of educational sights and experiences, Euterpe tells them, and shed like to share it all with them.
Rosie never suspects that her mother will allow them to go. After all, Chicago is a "place with a million or so people, most of them criminals. Nevertheless, the invitation is accepted and their hilarious adventure begins. The childrens eccentric and flamboyant grandfatherGrandpa Fuller (who travels nowhere without his dog!)joins them, much to the dismay of delicate Aunt Euterpe, who is ill-prepared for all the rambunctious-ness of her visitors. Without meaning to, Rosie and Lottie offend Euterpes household help, embarrass their aunt in front of Chicagos most prominent society ladies, and nearly wear out their welcome within hours of their arrival.
Fair Weather is, like one reviewer put it, the flip-side of Peck's A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder books. In those, the city kids visited the country. Here, its the wide-eyed country kids venturing into the big, bad city. Like the earlier books, Pecks witty and humorous style is full of unforgettable characters. Unlike these other books, in Fair Weather Peck doesnt limit himself to fictional characters. The Becketts are treated to meetings with legendary cowboy Buffalo Bill Cody and world-renown entertainer Lillian Russell. The Columbian Exposition introduced George Ferriss wheel to the world the Becketts ride the marvelous contraption at the books end. The ride literally offers them a new view of the worldbut it is also symbolic of how their view of life has already changed forever.
Author Richard Peck
Besides Fair Weather, Peck has written more than 20 books for young people. Visit his website for additional information about him and his work:
Note: Richard Peck is sometimes confused with Robert Newton Peck, another author of fiction for young people. This other Peck is probably best known for his book The Day No Pigs Would Die.
Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers
Hardcover -- ISBN: 0803725167
Paperback -- ISBN: 0142500348
Recommended age: 10 and up. My oldest read this when she was 11. I read it aloud to my (then) 7 and 9-year-old daughters, and to a third grade class. Everyone enjoyed it and we all learned a bit of 1890s history along the way.