I finished this book a week ago and thought I'd better finally get around to posting something about it. It was a really quick read. I didn't notice until I got home from the library that it is a sequel to another book, even though it says so right on the cover. (When you go to the library with three kids, the oldest age 4, you don't have much of an opportunity to really look at some things. The title I was looking for was there, I grabbed it, and off we went to the children's section.) You definitely don't need to have read the other book (titled A Long Way From Chicago) in order to understand what's going on, but I'll probably look for it when I go back to the library.
Anyway, to get right to the point, I liked A Year Down Yonder. It was funny! Really, it gave me the best laugh I've had from a book in a few months. I got a good laugh out of the valentines, but Maxine and the snake was hilarious! In fact, I kept snickering about it for a good five minutes after I put the book down!
Grandma is definitely a character, and my favorite in the book. Hard-working, enterprising, caring and understanding underneath her crusty exterior, and a jokester! (Not very many grandmothers would spike the punch at a chapter meeting of the DAR!) I was pleased to see her relationship with Mary Alice develop into one of mutual affection and respect.
It seems like so many of the books that are lauded by critics and given awards are depressing. So it was a pleasant surprise for me to find a critically-acclaimed story to be so amusing. I generally like the Newbery books, but this one was definitely deserving of the award.
Great pick, Sarah!