As a teacher and parent, I associate August with lists of things to do before we are back in school, but as a native Ohioan, I also think of August as Fair Season. The Montgomery County Fair in Dayton was one of my favorite events of the year, and when I moved to Massachusetts, I was admittedly somewhat disappointed that fairs are not as central to the calendar. Although I never lived on a farm, I loved the animals in the 4H barn and checking out all of the prize-winning vegetables. When we were in Tennessee last week, we went to a county fair and, just like something out of central casting, we watched a fiddling contest while drinking homemade root beer!
So, in honor of fair season, I will focus on fair books for a few days. Today’s book does not take place at a county or state fair, but a World’s Fair – the Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago to be exact. Richard Peck’s novel Fair Weather is about a rural Illinois family visiting relatives in Chicago during the big event. This sweet story is a classic tale of small town meets big city, but Peck captures the sights and sounds of 19th century urban life perfectly. There is even an appearance by Buffalo Bill!
This would be a perfect book for a 5th or 6th grade student studying American history. It combines a fun story with lots of cultural references and a snapshot of a world before cell phones and computers.