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A SEASON OF GIFTS by Richard Peck Kirkus Star

A SEASON OF GIFTS

From the Grandma Dowdel series, volume 3

By Richard Peck

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8037-3082-3
Publisher: Dial

According to 12-year-old Bob, “We Barnharts had moved in next door to a haunted house, if a house can be haunted by a living being.” Bob’s first encounter with its owner, Mrs. Dowdel, is inauspicious, as she discovers Bob strung up naked in a spider’s web of fishing line inside her privy. But Mrs. Dowdel offers the gift of friendship to Bob’s six-year-old sister Ruth Ann, and by the end of this 1958 Christmas season, each of the Barnharts will have been touched by gifts she has given. Peck’s challenge in his third Grandma Dowdel novel—Mrs. Dowdel now—is how to make the redoubtable lady the central character when she’s the next-door neighbor. He succeeds admirably, bringing to life each of the five Barnharts and subtly infusing their lives with the presence of their remarkable neighbor. Pitch-perfect prose, laced with humor and poignancy, strong characterization and a clear development of the theme of gifts one person can offer make this one of Peck’s best novels yet—and that’s saying something. (Historical fiction. 10 & up)