The Book

"Fair Weather" by Richard Peck

"Fair Weather" is narrated by Rosie Beckett, who visits Chicago in 1893 to see the World's Columbian Exposition, a gigantic fair held to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's landing in America. (Yeah, it was a year late.)

For Rosie, who is a 13-year-old farm girl in central Illinois, this trip changes everything; she calls the day she and her family are invited to Chicago "the last day of our old lives."

The offer to go to the fair comes in a letter from Rosie's Aunt Eutwerpe, who has been distant in more ways than miles. So it is with a lot of concern that Rosie, her troublesome 7-year-old brother, Curtis, and lovelorn 17-year-old sister, Lottie, travel by train to Chicago, accompanied by a colorful, not-so-welcome escort. In Chicago they discover new people and sights, from the wonders of the fair to the strangeness of the society ladies of Chicago. In return, they give the uptight folks of Chicago a few unforgettable experiences as well. This is a funny, warmhearted book that mixes the real (the fair, Buffalo Bill Cody) with the fictional. Lively, observant Rosie and her family are so convincingly portrayed that they seem real, too, and 1893 Chicago comes alive in a way that you almost feel as though you were at the fair, soaking in the marvels of a new age.

-- Elizabeth Chang