Common questions and answers for Richard Peck's novel "A Long Way from Chicago" quiz readers about the characters, objects and plot elements contained in the eight stories. They may ask about character attributes, such as, "Who drove a Hupmobile?" In the story, the banker L.J. Weidenbach drove this vehicle. Additionally, a common question may be more general, asking "What was Prohibition?" The answer, "Selling liquor was against the law," ties into the time period of the novel.
"A Long Way from Chicago," published in 1998, stylistically represents author Richard Peck's later literary style. The book tells eight related stories of two children, Mary Alice and Joey Dowdel, who visit their grandmother in rural Illinois during the summer between 1929 and 1942. Each chapter bears a unique title, such as "The Mouse in the Milk," "The Day of Judgement" and "Centennial Summer."
The first chapter, "Shotgun Cheatham's Last Night Above Ground," details the children's first summer with their grandmother. When they arrive, they find that she's arranging to hold a wake in her house for a recently deceased town resident. A movement in the coffin causes the grandmother to fire both barrels of a double-barreled shotgun at the casket, scaring the mourners.