100 Chapter Books Project: A Long Way from Chicago

A_Long_Way_from_ChicagoA few months ago, I was looking for a historical fiction book for Z and one of the suggestions I got was A Long Way from Chicago (1998) by Richard Peck. I didn’t end up choosing it for him but I did move it up in my own reading queue since it was #67 on the Top 100 list. It would have been a great choice though because it’s funny and crazy and yet still an educational glimpse at rural America’s past. It’s also a Newbery Honor book.

What it’s about: Joey and his younger sister Mary Alice spend summers in rural Illinois with their Grandma Dowdel, a larger-than-life woman who makes some questionable (but entertaining) decisions. This is a book of stories, one for each summer from 1929 to 1935.

Age level: Grade 4-6

Best part: The adventures. From feeding the elderly and the homeless during the Great Depression to dishing out a bit of revenge to some local hooligans, the adventures that Joey and his sister had with their grandma were certainly memorable but also taught some fantastic life lessons.

Worst part (not really): The ending. It wasn’t actually bad in anyway. It was very touching and a perfect punctuation to all of the crazy stories about Grandma. It just made me cry (and still makes me tear up even thinking about it).

Verdict: Buy

This was the perfect book to get me through the end of the school year. It was a hectic time but I would just stick in my headphones, call up the audiobook and start walking around the neighborhood. By the time I got back home, I was fully distracted and also able to put my own stresses in perspective. This is definitely what a good book should do, right?

Next is Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, a fantasy-adventure that seems perfect for summer reading. Feel free to join me!

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Schedule – July through September

note: dates are not necessarily set in stone – posts may go up a day or two before or after

July 15 – #72 Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (2009)

July 31 – #6 Holes by Louis Sachar (1998)

August 15 – #74 Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume (1970)

August 30 – #66 The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (2009)

September 15 – #14 The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (1938)

September 30 – Project Update – Two Years In!

100 Chapter Books Project: Half Magic

halfmagicA weird coincidence this time: the book Half Magic by Edward Eager is from 1954 and it comes in at number 54 on the list. Perhaps there was a bit of magic involved?

What it’s about: Four siblings–Jane, Mark, Katharine and Martha–come across a small magic charm one day at the beginning of summer and it completely changes their lives. They have adventures in time, space and even in their hometown. But the biggest magic might be something they never would have expected.

Age level: Grade 3-6

Best part: It’s the way that the kids figure out that the magic is being done by halves without adult guidance. (If they make a normal wish on the charm, it gets half-granted. So, for example, if they wish to be in a certain place, they would instead end up halfway there.) It’s a tricky bit of problem solving but they manage without any help.

Worst part: I really like this book and have no real complaints but, if I have to choose something, it’s that Sir Launcelot is a total jerk.

Verdict: Buy

Z and I read this together a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it but I think I liked it even more this time through on audiobook. It was a great ensemble narration that was fun to listen to. I also felt better about one part that seemed a bit racist the first time through because I caught the nuance of the situation. I think I might read Magic By the Lake this summer just because I had fun again with this story!

This read counts for the Once Upon a Time VIII Challenge as a fantasy title.

The next book is A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck. It was one of the books suggested to me a few months back when Z needed a historical fiction book for school. I was told that it was very funny so I’m excited to read it. I’ve already got it from the library on audiobook!

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Schedule – June through September
note: dates are not necessarily set in stone – posts may go up a day or two before or after
June 30 – #67 A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck (1998)
July 15 – #72 Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (2009)
July 31 – #6 Holes by Louis Sachar (1998)
August 15 – #74 Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume (1970)
August 30 – #66 The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (2009)
September 15 – #14 The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (1938)