A Long Way from Chicago
by Richard Peck

A Long Way from Chicago is a classic!  Kids have been loving this hilarious book and its cooky, eccentric, outrageous characters for generations. 

Set between 1929-1942, the book tells the story of Joey and Mary Alice who spend each August at Grandma Dowdel's house in a sleepy Illinois town. Together they always have crazy adventures thanks to Grandma Dowdel's tendency to take matters into her own hands to 'make things the way they should be'.  Told through nine interconnected by separate episodes, the three characters embark on all manner of crazy misadventures. What results is a "satire about small town etiquette is fresh, warm, and anything but ordinary." (Publisher's Weekly)

“Part vaudeville act, part laconic tall tale, the stories, with their dirty tricks and cunning plots, make you laugh out loud at the farce and snicker at the reversals....With the tall talk, irony, insult, and vulgarity, there’s also a heartfelt sense of the Depression’s time and place. . . . Many readers will recognize the irreverent, contrary voices of their own family legends across generations.” (Booklist, starred review)

“Each tale is a small masterpiece of storytelling.”  (The Horn Book, starred review)

A Long Way from Chicago Reading Level

Interest Level:  Grade 4-8
DRA Level:   50
Lexile Measure:  750L
Grade Level Equivalent:  4.6
Guided Reading Level:   V

Awards won by this book

 * National Honor 1998
 * American Library Association Notable Children's Book
 * American Library Association  Best Book for Young Adults 1999
 * National Council for Teachers of English Notable Book 1999
 * Horn Fanfare Award 1999

Available Book Covers

There are three different covers available for this book. We think they are all pretty great!

Grandma Dowdell series

There are three books in the Grandma Dowdell series. They are:

(1) A Long Way from Chicago
(2) A Year Down Yonder
(3) A Season of Gifts

A Long Way from Chicago Novel Studies

There are a lot of novel study packs available on Teachers Pay Teachers for A Long Way from Chicago. We haven't personally used them with our classes since we teach the younger grades, but they all seem to have a lot of positive reviews. To see these A Long Way from Chicago novel studies, click the link or the pictures below.