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A season of gifts

Richard Peck


Ages 12 and up

Penguin, 2009, 0803730829

  Bob and his family have moved to a new town where Bob’s father has been given the job of forming a new church. The church building is falling apart, Bob’s family has very little money, his older sister is furious that they have moved, and a rather terrifying old lady called Mrs. Dowdel lives next door. All in all, Bob’s life is not looking good.

  Soon after arriving in the town, the local bullies give Bob a rousing welcome; they take away his clothes, dunk him in the river, tie him up with fishing twine, and leave him in Mrs. Dowdel’s outdoor privy. Though she is not initially pleased to see Bob, she deals with the situation with surprising sensitivity. She gives Bob clothes to wear, and she promises not to tell anyone what happened to him.

  Bob and his family soon learn that Mrs. Dowdel is full of surprises. She scares the living daylights out of a high school girl who dares to try to steal one of Mrs. Dowdel’s melons; and she makes a tidy sum of money when people decide that the ghost of an Indian princess is haunting her melon patch. Then, once she has made all the money she can make off the story, Mrs. Dowdel insists that Bob’s father should lay the poor Indian princess to rest. A good rousing funeral is just what the new church needs, and Bob’s father is finally able to build up a congregation.

  In this hilarious, but also poignant book, master storyteller Richard Peck gives his fans another dose of Mrs. Dowdel. Once again, she finds extremely unique and unconventional ways to solve problems. She helps people who don’t even know that they need her help, and she gives them experiences that they will never forget.

  This book is truly a celebration of the best kind of gift giving there is – the kind that takes place all year long.





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