42 pages 1 hour read

Richard Peck

A Long Way from Chicago

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 1998

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Prologue-Chapter 2

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Prologue Summary

The prologue is narrated by Joey many years after the events that make up the main part of the book. In this opening section, he looks back fondly on the summers that he and Mary Alice spent with their grandmother when they were children and notes that all his memories are true and “growing truer with the years” (1).

Chapter 1 Summary: “Shotgun Cheatham’s Last Night Above Ground”

Joey and Mary Alice’s grandmother lives in a sleepy town somewhere between Chicago and St. Louis. When a man named Shotgun Cheathham is killed, a city reporter comes to get the scoop. Joey and Mary Alice hear all kinds of rumors about how Shotgun got his nickname, including that he ran with the famous bandits, Jesse and Frank James, but their grandmother claims that this is nonsense. Grandma claims that Shotgun was a terrible shot and got his nickname after he accidentally killed a cow, which isn’t anything exciting because any girl in town could have outshot him, including her. To emphasize her point, she states, “I wasn’t no Annie Oakley myself” (7-8).

When the reporter comes to the house asking for information about Shotgun, Joey’s grandmother tells him that Ulysses S. Grant himself gave Shotgun his nickname during the Civil War.