Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Richard Peck

Richard Peck was born and raised in Decatur, IL by his mother (Illinois Wesleyan graduate) and father (education ended at 6th grade). Peck graduated with an English degree from DePauw University. He was drafted by the US Army in 1956 and after his return, he completed a master's degree from Southern Illinois University. Richard Peck is author of children and young adult books, including Fair Weather and A Long Way from Chicago, and many, MANY more.

Richard Peck has earned many honors for his young adult books. He earned a Newbery Honor for A Long Way from Chicago, and then for its sequel, A Year Down Yonder, Peck won the Newbery Medal. In 2002, Peck was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Bush. What a great honor!

I chose to read the aforementioned books, Fair Weather and A Long Way from Chicago, where Richard Peck takes real historical events, set in the Chicagoland area, and adds a fictional family life to them. Being from the Chicagoland area, I was gravitated toward his books. Peck's books give children the opportunity to learn about history in a fun and exciting way! If you and your family are from the Chicagoland area and want to learn about the World's Columbian Exposition without having to read The Devil in the White City, I encourage you to read Fair Weather.

Unfortunately, Richard Peck does not have a personal website because he has refrained from using modern technology. He does not have a computer and uses a typewriter for his manuscripts. Therefore, much of what we know about Peck is either written in his autobiography, Anonymously Yours, or posted online from others.

Richard Peck was a world traveler and a teacher. He met many people during his travels and some of these people appear as characters in his books. Peck is one that encourages non-conformity and encourages writers to get to know people who do not conform. Peck's ultimate goal in writing is to enrich the lives of his readers. He is known as being graceful, witty and charming. In his autobiography, he puts his dedication of enlarging lives in these words:

"I read because one life isn't enough, and in the page of a book I can be anybody; I read because the words that build the story become mine, to build my life; I read not for happy endings but for new beginnings; I'm just beginning myself, and I wouldn't mind a map; I read because I have friends who don't, and young though they are, they're beginning to run out of material; I read because every journey begins at the library, and it's time for me to start packing; I read because one of these days I'm going to get out of this town, and I'm going to go everywhere and meet everybody, and I want to be ready."

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