Richard Peck's beloved character, Mrs. Dowdel, makes her third appearance in the Newbury Award winning author's new release this season. Set in 1958 in the quintessential small town, USA, A Season of Gifts shares with us a young minister's family who are all the recipients of Mrs. Dowdel's many gifts (and I "don't mean anything wrapped up with ribbon...nothing that small.") Told through the eyes of twelve year old Bob, the minister's middle child, who enters the town shy and expectant of being bullied. His Elvis obsessed fourteen year old sister experiments with her own wild side in order to find her way in the new town. And Ruth Ann, Bob' youngest sister, becomes Mrs. Dowdel's shadow, dressing the same, imitating the old woman's mannerisms (to include pushing non-existent glasses up the bridge of her nose) while absorbing as much of Mrs. Dowdel's wisdom as she can. Ultimately, each child receives the gift they need most from the old woman.
This book will appear in the 6th grade section of my book fair, and I plan to share it with my own fifth grader as we get closer to the holiday season. There is a scene towards the end of the book in which, Phyllis, Bob's older sister, is involved in a car accident because she and her boyfriend have been drinking beer. (Nothing gory - some bruises). There is also the proclamation by Ruth Ann, that she knows there is no S-A-N-T-A. She is in first grade now and "word gets around".
The other two books that feature Mrs. Dowdel, A Year Down Yonder (which won the Newbery) and A Long Way from Chicago (which received a Newbery Honor) will also be for sale.
Discussion guide available on penguin.com/teachersandlibrarians
Dial Book for Young Readers