Fair Weather

Fair Weather

Richard Peck

Additional Formats
  • Hardcover
  • ISBN 9780803725164
  • 160 Pages
  • Dial Books for Young Readers
  • 3 – 5


From Newbery Medal-winning author Richard Peck comes a dazzling slice of American History, set during the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893.
In his celebrated, Newbery-winning novels A Year Down Yonder and A Long Way from Chicago, Richard Peck carried us happily back to the Midwest of the 1930s. Now the master of historical fiction transports us to the1890s, to the Chicago World’s Fair and its incredible mix of personalities and new inventions that gave glimpses of the future. Here is a tour de force that combines the real people of the time with an enormously engaging new fictional family, spinning them all into a whirlwind of humor, misadventure, and charms beyond measure.

On the brink of adulthood (not to mention a whole new century), Rosie makes her first trip to the big city, along with her wide-eyed siblings and their rascally old granddad. There, amidst the breathtaking Ferris wheel and other wonders of the fair, Rosie discovers the world and herself, while coming face-to-face with some of the era’s most famous people—including showgirl Lillian Russell and Colonel William F. Cody (a.k.a. Buffalo Bill).
“Peck’s unforgettable characters, cunning dialogue and fast-paced action will keep readers of all ages in stitches as he captures a colorful chapter in American history.”—Publishers Weekly
“An engaging historical novel that will please a wider audience than the target age group.”—Booklist (starred review)
“This marvelously funny story set in 1893[…] paints an accurate picture of a small Illinois farm and of the first World’s Fair.”—School Library Journal


Do you have any writing rituals, for instance: Where do you write? What time of day do you get your best ideas? Do you have a writing uniform? What do you have to have within reach when you write?

I have within reach an IBM electric typewriter (with erasing capacity.) I don’t compose on a screen. The screen is the enemy; it’s cost us too many readers. My stories start out life on paper pages—turnable, tangible sheets, building into a book from the first day.

Who do you share your writing with first?

My editor is my first reader and only of a completed manuscript. Showing anybody work in progress is like going out on the street in your underwear; it shows all the wrong things about you. It’s not a story, it’s not anything until you’ve found the ending.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I expect I was four when I decided to be a writer. My mother read to me because she had no intention of sending an ignoramus to first grade. The minute she opened the door to the alternative universe of stories, of fiction, I found the place I wanted to be.

What were you doing when you found out that your first book was accepted for publication?

I was asleep. On the day before, I’d asked a now famous editor and agent, George Nicholson, to read my first manuscript to suggest how it might be improved. He called early the next morning, saying, “You may start your second novel.”

What did you treat yourself to when you received your first advance check?

I went off to England in the dead of winter. In my teaching days I’d never been able to travel in that season, and now my teaching days were behind me.

What was the first book you remember reading, or being read to you, as a child?

The book I first fell in love with was Mark Twain’s LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI. And so I fell for nonfiction first, before fiction.

Do you read reviews of your own work?

Of course. Everybody does, in the hopes of seeing stars.

What’s the best question a teen has ever asked you about your writing?

“Do you live around here?”

What are you reading right now?

Alex Flinn’s sensational first novel, BREATHING UNDERWATER, and Jacqueline Woodson’s dynamite MIRACLE’S BOYS. I keep learning how to write by reading my colleagues’ work.

Tell us about writing FAIR WEATHER?

Like two of my previous novels, SECRETS OF THE SHOPPING MALL, and A LONG WAY FROM CHICAGO, FAIR WEATHER grew out of a short story. For Don Gallo’s collection, TIME CAPSULE, I’d written “The Electric Summer,” set at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, the St. Louis world’s fair of 1904. In the story a farm girl and her mother summon the courage to brave St. Louis and the fair, and glimpse the outside world.

But the great world’s fairs burst with too much energy and dramatic possibility to be confined to short stories. For a novel I chose the Columbian Exposition, the Chicago world’s fair of 1893. Even more than the St. Louis fair, this one unveiled the coming twentieth century: an electrically lit, internal combustion, steam-driven, urbanizing, show-business, sword-rattling century where young people could find their futures.

Of course my characters were from the farm. Most kids were growing up on farms then. I wanted to show them their first lightbulb, and much more.

I wanted to show them the new century about to be born, with a fair to point them in the directions their futures would take them. And to accompany them, their salty old granddad, who is my humble homage to Mark Twain, whose work and wit and romance made me want to be a writer.

They go to the great fair, and in a sense they never come home, not as they’d been. They’d be glad if you cared to come along, and so would I.