MSBA Book Buzz

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A Season of Gifts December 1, 2010

Filed under: Historical Fiction — msbabookbuzz @ 4:21 pm

Bobby Barnhart knows that being the preacher’s son and a new kid in town might invite problems, but he never expected to be hung upside down and naked in his neighbor’s privy. That encounter was just the first of many with the town bullies, but it introduced him (embarrassingly) to his strongest ally, Mrs. Dowdel. 

 Here’s a little peek at how these two meet:

“Then the privy door banged open.  Filling the doorway and then some was Mrs. Dowdel. A copy of the Farm Journal and three corncobs were in one of her fists. I hadn’t seen her up close. I’d never wanted to be anywhere near this close to her. Her specs crept to the end of her nose. We were nose to nose. She didn’t welcome surprises, and I came as one. All she’d wanted to do was use her privy, and here I was barring her way, naked as a jaybird in my own personal web.”

The Barnhart family, Bob, his older sister Phyllis, younger sister Ruth Ann and their parents have moved to the small mid-western town so that Bob’s father can take a job as a minister.The year is 1958, and while the country is not experiencing a depression, many people exist just barely above the poverty level.  The Barnharts are no exception.  As Christmas rolls around, the Barnhart family realizes that they’ve found a true home – and a neighbor who gives gifts that will last a lifetime.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Grandma Dowdel in Richard Peck’s earlier books, Newbery Award winner A Year Down Yonder and Newbery Honor A Long Way From Chicago let me just say she is someone you won’t soon forget!  Although she seems to be grouchy and standoffish, Mrs. Dowdel proves that her kindness, resourcefulness and generosity are only outdone by her sense of justice and fair play. During the story each of the Bob’s family members becomes the benefactor of one or more of Mrs. Dowdel’s gifts.  Though her gifts don’t come from stores or wrapped in pretty paper and bows, they certainly have long-lasting effects. 

This story is filled with funny events and characters you will enjoy getting to know.  You don’t have to have read Mr. Peck’s first two books about Grandma Dowdel to understand this story, but once you meet her,  you probably won’t be able to help yourself.  The BIS Library has a copy of A Season of Gifts on audio CD’s  and of course both the BIS Library and McArthur Public Library have copies of the book.

~Mrs. Dee

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One Response to “A Season of Gifts”

  1. Coleen Whitehurst-Hatt Says:

    Mrs. Hatt’s 8th grade class is reading A Season of Gifts. We are finding this book hilarious. The characters are endearing. Our class had difficulty adjusting to the culture of the 1950’s in a small mid-western town. This is the first book we have read that we have felt is a challenge for us due to the dialect and setting. The students are working through this challenge in a literature circle.


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