Mary Alice is a city girl sent to live with her overbearing grandmother in the late 1930s. Richard Peck’s country mouse perspective is historically accurate as well as unique to the small community in southern Illinois. Being the 2001 Newberry winner, A Year Down Yonder is a modern classic. Read it for the sense of place and setting. Each chapter gives an interesting and often funny anecdote, and while the overall story is good, this book is more about the setting, which Peck creates seamlessly without overdrawn description.
Listed under the Young Adult category (10 years, plus), this book would be fun to compare to any version of the City Mouse, Country Mouse book. Although Mary Alice is the only character to reference for both city and country living, students could draw up a nice T-chart for both residences. In addition, it’s a clever way to sneak a picture book into the education of those ‘tweens.