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Peck, Richard 1934–

Peck, Richard 1934–

(Richard Wayne Peck)

Personal

Born April 5, 1934, in Decantur, IL; son of Wayne Morris (a merchant) and Virginia (a dietician) Peck. Education: Attended University of Exeter, 1955-56; DePauw University, B.A., 1956; Southern Illinois University, M.A., 1959; further graduate study at Washington University, 1960-61. Politics: Republican. Religion: Methodist.

Addresses

Home and office—New York, NY. Agent—Sheldon Fogelman, 155 E. 72nd St., New York, NY 10021.

Career

Author. Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, instructor in English, 1958-60; Glenbrook North High School, Northbrook, IL, teacher of English, 1961-63; Scott, Foresman Co., Chicago, IL, textbook editor, 1963-65; Hunter College of the City University of New York and Hunter College High School, instructor in English and education, 1965-71; writer, 1971—. Assistant director, Council for Basic Education, Washington, DC, 1969-70; English-speaking Union fellow to Jesus College, Oxford, 1973; adjunct professor at Louisiana State University School of Library and Information Sciences. Military service: U.S. Army, 1956-58; served in Stuttgart, Germany.

Member

Authors Guild, Authors League of America, Delta Chi.

Awards, Honors

Child Study Association of America Children's Book of the Year citations, 1970, for Sounds and Silences, 1971, for Mindscapes, and 1986, for Blossom Culp and the Sleep of Death; writing award, National Council for the Advancement of Education, 1971; Edgar Allan Poe Award runner-up, Mystery Writers of America, 1974, for Dreamland Lake; Friends of American Writers Award (older category), 1976, for The Ghost Belonged to Me; Edgar Allan Poe Award for best juvenile mystery novel, 1976, and Author's Award, New Jersey Institute of Technology, 1978, both for Are You in the House Alone?; New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year citation, 1977, for Ghosts I Have Been; Illinois Writer of the Year citation, Illinois Association of Teachers of English, 1977; School Library Journal Best of the Best citations, 1966-1978, for Dreamland Lake, and Father Figure; American Library Association (ALA) Young Adult Services Division's Best of the Best Books 1970-1983 citations, for Are You in the House Alone? and Ghosts I Have Been; Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults, 1990; Newbery Medal honorable mention, 1998, for A

Long Way from Chicago; Newbery Medal, 2001, for A Year down Yonder; National Humanities Medal, 2001; National Book Award nomination, 2003, and Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, 2004, both for The River between Us; Jeremiah Ludington Memorial Award, 2004; ALAN Award, 2005. Many of Paulsen's books have been selected ALA Best Books for Young Adults, School Library Journal Best Books for Young Adults, and New York Library Books for the Teen Age.

Writings

FICTION; FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS

Don't Look and It Won't Hurt, Holt (New York, NY), 1972.

Through a Brief Darkness, Viking (New York, NY), 1973.

Representing Super Doll, Viking (New York, NY), 1974.

The Ghost Belonged to Me, Viking (New York, NY), 1975.

Are You in the House Alone? (with teacher's guide), Viking (New York, NY), 1976.

Ghosts I Have Been (sequel to The Ghost Belonged to Me), Viking (New York, NY), 1977.

Monster Night at Grandma's House, illustrations by Don Freeman, Viking (New York, NY), 1977.

Father Figure, Viking (New York, NY), 1978.

Secrets of the Shopping Mall, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1979.

Close Enough to Touch, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1981.

The Dreadful Future of Blossom Culp, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1983.

Remembering the Good Times, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1985.

Blossom Culp and the Sleep of Death, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1986.

Princess Ashley, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1987.

Those Summer Girls I Never Met, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1988.

Dreamland Lake, Holt (New York, NY), 1973, Dell (New York, NY), 1990.

Unfinished Portrait of Jessica, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1991.

Bel-Air Bambi and the Mall Rats, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1993.

The Last Safe Place on Earth, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1995.

Lost in Cyberspace, Dial Books (New York, NY), 1995.

The Great Interactive Dream Machine: Another Adventure in Cyberspace, Dial Books (New York, NY), 1996.

A Long Way from Chicago: A Novel in Stories, Dial Books (New York, NY), 1998.

Strays like Us, Dial Books (New York, NY), 1998.

A Year down Yonder, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Fair Weather, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2001.

The River between Us, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2003.

The Teacher's Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Here Lies the Librarian, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2006.

On the Wings of Heroes, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2007.

ADULT NOVELS

Amanda/Miranda, Viking (New York, NY), 1980.

New York Time, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1981.

This Family of Women, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1983.

Voices after Midnight, Dell (New York, NY), 1990.

London Holiday, Viking (New York, NY), 1998.

EDITOR

(With Ned E. Hoopes) Edge of Awareness: Twenty-five Contemporary Essays, Dell (New York, NY), 1966.

Sounds and Silences: Poetry for Now, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1970.

Mindscapes: Poems for the Real World, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1971.

Leap into Reality: Essays for Now, Dell (New York, NY), 1972.

Urban Studies: A Research Paper Casebook, Random House (New York, NY), 1973.

Transitions: A Literary Paper Casebook, Random House (New York, NY), 1974.

Pictures That Storm inside My Head (poetry anthology), Avon (New York, NY), 1976.

OTHER

(With Norman Strasma) Old Town, A Complete Guide: Strolling, Shopping, Supping, Sipping, 2nd edition, [Chicago, IL], 1965.

(With Mortimer Smith and George Weber) A Consumer's Guide to Educational Innovations, Council for Basic Education (Washington, DC), 1972.

(With Stephen N. Judy) The Creative Word 2, Random House (New York, NY), 1974.

Write a Tale of Terror, Book Lures, 1987.

Anonymously Yours (autobiography), Messner (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1991.

Life and Death at the Mall: Teaching and Writing for the Literate Young, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1994.

Invitations to the World: Reflections on Teaching and Writing for Young Adults, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Past Perfect, Present Tense: New and Collected Stories, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Author of column on historic architecture for New York Times. Contributor to books, including Literature for Today's Young Adults, edited by Kenneth L. Donelson and Alleen Pace Nilsen, Scott, Foresman, 1980; Sixteen: Short Stories by Outstanding Young Adult Writers, edited by Donald R. Gallo, Delacorte, 1984; Visions: Nineteen Short Stories by Outstanding Writers for Young Adults, edited by Gallo, Delacorte, 1987; and Connections: Short Stories by Outstanding Writers for Young Adults, edited by Gallo, Delacorte, 1989. Contributor of poetry to several anthologies. Contributor of poems to Saturday Review and Chicago Tribune Magazine. Contributor of articles to periodicals, including American Libraries, PTA Magazine, and Parents' Magazine.

A collection of Peck's papers from 1972-91 are housed at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Adaptations

Audiocassette versions of Peck's books include The Ghost Belonged to Me, Live Oak Media, 1976, Don't Look and It Won't Hurt (filmstrip with cassette), Random House, Remembering the Good Times (cassette), Listening Library, 1987, and Here Lies the Librarian, Puffin, 2007. Television movies based on his books include Are You in the House Alone?, CBS, 1977; Child of Glass (based on The Ghost Belonged to Me), Walt Disney Productions, 1979; Father Figure, Time-Life Productions, 1980; and Gas Food Lodging (based on Don't Look and It Won't Hurt, 1991.

Sidelights

The author of dozens of books for adolescent readers, Richard Peck focuses on such important teen-age problems as suicide, unwanted pregnancy, death of a loved one, and rape have won critical praise for their realism and emotional power. In award-winning novels that include The River between Us, A Long Way from Chicago: A Novel in Stories, and A Year down Yonder, Peck creates stories that help young readers to develop self-confidence. He has also written adult novels that show men and women who are not confined to roles that traditionally belong to their gender.

When writing for young adults, Peck told Roger Sutton in a School Library Journal interview, he thinks about potential readers: "As I'm typing I'm trying to look out over the typewriter and see faces. I don't certainly want to ‘write for myself’ because I'm trying to write across a generation gap." In books for both age groups, Peck told Jean F. Mercier in Publishers Weekly, he tries to "give readers leading characters they can look up to and reasons to believe that problems can be solved." The excellence of his work has been recognized by numerous awards, including the American Library Association's Young Adult Author Achievement Award in 1990, the 2001 National Humanities Medal, and the Newbery Medal, also in 2001, for A Year down Yonder.

Peck became familiar with contemporary adolescent problems while teaching high school. He liked his students, but after several years became discouraged and quit; teaching "had begun to turn into something that looked weirdly like psychiatric social work." Peck decided instead to write books for teenagers that featured the problems he had seen. "Ironically, it was my students who taught me to be a writer, though I had been hired to teach them," he said in a speech published in Arkansas Libraries. "They taught me that a novel must entertain first before it can be anything else." He observed that young adults are most concerned with winning approval from their peers and seeking reassurance from their reading material. With these needs in mind, Peck writes about the passage from childhood to adulthood. He believes that in a young adult novel, typically "the reader meets a worthy young character who takes one step nearer maturity, and he or she takes that step independently."

Peck's first novel, Don't Look and It Won't Hurt, is about a teenage pregnancy. Knowing that teens don't identify with main characters they view as losers, he tells his story of alienation and healing from the viewpoint of the young mother's younger sister. The fifteen year old manages to keep her troubled family together, "parenting" her parents in a role reversal that appeals to readers of this age group. She is also helpful in the sister's recovery after deciding to give her baby up for adoption. The novel received much critical praise and became a popular success.

Peck's controversial novel about a teenage girl who is raped, Are You in the House Alone?, received the Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1976. Zena Sutherland, writing in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, was impressed by the novel's scope, saying that the author "sees clearly both society's problem and the victim's: the range of attitudes, the awful indignity, the fear and shame that is part of this kind of crime." Peck explained in his speech, "I did not write the novel to tell the young about rape. They already know what that is." He said he wrote it to warn the young that criminals are regrettably sometimes treated with more respect than victims even though victims of crime live in the shadow of that experience for the rest of their lives. Alix Nelson, writing in the New York Times Book Review, thought that Peck should be commended for reaching his audience and for teaching them about a topic that many other people in their lives avoid.

In his "Blossom Culp" books, Peck mixes humor and the supernatural. Set in the years 1913 and 1914, they feature spirited young Blossom Culp, who makes her own rules for life and has psychic powers. In The Ghost Belonged to Me and Ghosts I Have Been, Blossom is revealed as a strong and resourceful young heroine. Through the use of time-travel plot devices, readers are introduced to Ancient Egypt and the women's suffrage movement in Blossom Culp and the Sleep of Death. The ghost characters in the "Culp" books are "distinct and memorable," wrote a contributor in the St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers. Past and future are also blended with ease in Peck's science-fiction-influenced novels Lost in Cyberspace and The Great Interactive Dream Machine: Another Adventure in Cyberspace.

Close Enough to Touch, a love story written in response to a young man's request that Peck should write a book about dating, is "told by a boy," as the author said in his speech. "It might please some boys to be given this voice. It might surprise some girls that boys have emotions too. Mother never told them. Mothers are still telling daughters that boys only want one thing. How wrong they are. Boys want a great deal." When the boy's first girlfriend dies, he suddenly has to cope with the fact that just as no one had prepared him for intimacy with the opposite sex, no one has prepared him to face grief. "There is no sexual content in this book," Peck continued. "This is a novel about the emotions, not the senses."

Peck believes that American attitudes about public education have resulted in a system that has discouraged young people instead of equipping them for survival in the real world. He said in his speech that, fortunately, another America exists—an America revealed through its literature. "This America is one of self-reliance and coming from behind; of characters who learn to accept the consequences of their actions; of happy endings worked for and almost achieved; of being young in an old world and finding your way in it; of a nation of people hasty and forgetful but full still of hope; of limitless distances and new beginnings and starting over; of dreams like mountaintops, and rivers that run to the sea. We owe our young this record of our dreams."

Such dreams energize A Long Way from Chicago and its companion volume, A Year down Yonder, winner of the 2001 Newbery Medal. In the first book, a novel comprised of seven related short stories, Chicago residents Joey and his younger sister travel each summer from 1929 to 1935 to visit their grandmother in a small Illinois town. Critics found Grandma Dowdel, Peck's central character, a strong and memorable figure who poaches catfish, brews her own beer, and delights in outsmarting her adversaries. Like Grandma Dowdel,

Peck's other female heroes tend to make their own decisions and eschew peer pressure. In many of his books, such as A Long Way from Chicago and A Year down Yonder, he realistically portrays women in periods of social change as they navigate fluctuating social roles.

Narrated by fifteen-year-old Mary Alice, Grandma's granddaughter, A Year down Yonder offers an engaging mix of "wit, gentleness, and outrageous farce," according to Booklist contributor Hazel Rochman. As Gerry Larson wrote in his review of the book for School Library Journal, "Peck has created a delightful, insightful tale that resounds with a storyteller's wit, humor, and vivid description." Another historical novel, Fair Weather, takes a similar approach as it follows the Beckett family on their whirlwind visit to the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition. "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," concluded a Publishers Weekly critic in reviewing Fair Weather.

A young man explores his family's complex history in Peck's 2003 novel The River between Us. The work opens in 1916, as Howard Hutchings travels with his family to Grand Tower, Illinois, where Howard's paternal grandparents, great-aunt, and great-uncle await them. The narrative then shifts to 1861, as Tilly Pruitt, Howard's grandmother, recalls the day two enigmatic women arrived by steamboat in Grand Tower, whose residents are divided by the events of the U.S. Civil War. The wealthy and beautiful Delphine Duval and her companion, the younger, darker-skinned Calinda, are taken in by the Pruitt family, though the women's relationship confounds the townspeople. When Noah Pruitt, Tilly's brother, joins the Union army and is wounded in battle, Tilly and Delphine are sent to bring him home; a secret is revealed, and the journey changes their lives forever. In The River between Us, "Peck masterfully describes the female Civil War experience, the subtle and not-too-subtle ways the country was changing, and the split in loyalty that separated towns and even families," noted School Library Journal contributor Connie Tyrell Burns. Hazel Rochman, reviewing the work in Booklist, stated that the author's "spare writing has never been more eloquent than in this powerful mystery in which personal secrets drive the plot and reveal the history." For this effort, Peck received the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction.

In The Teacher's Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts, "Peck fully and gracefully describes the family life of an era gone by," observed Kliatt reviewer Janis Flint-Ferguson. Set in 1904, the story is narrated by Russell Culver, a rural Indiana teen whose older sister, Tansy, takes charge of Russell's one-room schoolhouse after the death of the local instructor. Despite the chaos brought by her young charges, including a fire in the privy and a snake hidden in her desk, Tansy manages the classroom effectively and offers her students hope for the future. "Following the tradition of Mark Twain, Peck gently pokes fun at social manners and captures local color while providing first-rate entertainment," stated a reviewer in Publishers Weekly. "Best of all," remarked Booklist contributor Carolyn Phelan, "the dry wit and unpretentious tone make the story's events comical, its characters memorable, and its conclusion unexpectedly moving."

Peck's strong sense of community infuses his works of historical fiction. "I'm reaching the age of nostalgia now," the author told Publishers Weekly interviewer Jennifer M. Brown, "when my beginnings are more vivid to me than all the years between. I realize now what a tremendous advantage it was to grow up where and when I did, with all races, ethnicities, and age groups jumbled together. It was the most nearly democratic place I ever lived."

Peck takes readers to the rural Midwest and the year 1914 in Here Lies the Librarian. Newfangled automobiles are taking the place of the horse and buggy, and gas-station operator Jake McGrath and his fourteen-year-old tomboy sister Eleanor—called PeeWee—are particularly aware of the growing popularity of the new invention. PeeWee takes little notice when a group of do-gooders decides to rebuild the town's library following a tornado; she is much more interested in helping Jack build his racing car. Soon, the pretty young women who come to staff the new library begin introducing the motherless girl to pretty dresses and feminine airs, and although PeeWee rethinks her own self-image as a girl, she maintains her independence from typical roles when her brother needs her. Calling Here Lies the Librarian a "lively story," Kliatt reviewer Carol Reich added that the author's "feminist message won't be lost on readers, who will enjoy the [plot's] action." In School Library Journal, Tricia Melgaard called Peck "a master at creating enchanting characters," noting that "even his dead librarian has personality."

Peck casts On the Wings of Heroes with his typical multigenerational cast of colorful characters. Set in the Midwest during World War II, the novel introduces

Davy Bowman and his hard-working family. The patriotic Bowmans join many of their fellow Americans in living modestly during wartime, and Davy collects tin cans and other scrap metal to recycle into armaments. He also collects milkweed pods, for use in life jackets. His efforts to gather materials to support the war effort lead Davy into relationships with several elderly neighbors, and these new friendships, as well as his brother's Bill's deployment to Europe as an Air Force cadet, causes the boy to change his view of the world. "Chock full of eccentric characters and poignant moments, On the Wings of Heroes "will be embraced by children and grownups alike," according to a Publishers Weekly contributor, while School Library Journal contributor Lee Bock deemed it "an absolute delight." Noting that "no one does nostalgia better than Peck," Booklist critic Michael Cart explained that Peck's "abundant, affectionate references" to the popular culture of the War era "help evoke … a time very different from today."

In his Newbery Medal acceptance speech, published in Horn Book, Peck observed: "Powerful forces divorce the young from their roots and traditions…. We writers and librarians, we people of the word, spot for survivors in a generation who have learned the wrong lesson from their elementary-school years; that yes, you should be able to read and write; yes, you should be literate. But if you're not, you will be accommodated."

When asked about what he hopes to accomplish with his writing for young adults, Peck told Sutton, "I don't know what books can do, except one point is that I wish every kid knew that fiction can be truer than fact, that it isn't a frivolous pastime unless your reading taste is for the frivolous. I wish they knew that being literate is a way of being successful in any field. I wish they all wanted to pit their own experience against the experiences they see in books." Peck concluded, "But in books you reach an awful lot of promising kids who write back good literate letters and give you hope. So that's the hope I have."

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults, Beacham (Osprey, FL), Volume 1, 1990, Volume 6, 1994, Volume 8, 1994, Volume 11, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.

Children's Literature Review, Volume 15, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1988.

St. James Guide to Young-Adult Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.

Something about the Author Autobiography Series, Volume 2, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1986.

Twentieth-Century Children's Writers, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1989.

Writers for Young Adults, Scribner (New York, NY), 1997.

PERIODICALS

Arkansas Libraries, December, 1981, Richard Peck, "People of the Word," pp. 13-16.

Book, January, 2001, Kathleen Odean, review of A Year down Yonder, p. 83.

Booklist, September 1, 1998, Hazel Rochman, review of A Long Way from Chicago: A Novel in Stories, p. 113; November 15, 1999, Frances Bradburn, review of Amanda/Miranda, p. 615; October 15, 2000, Hazel Rochman, review of A Year down Yonder, p. 436; April 2001, Barbara Wysocki, review of A Year down Yonder, p. 92; September 1, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of Fair Weather, p. 110; September 15, 2003, review of The River between Us, p. 239; April 1, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of Past Perfect, Present Tense: New and Collected Stories, p. 1361; October 1, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Teacher's Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts, p. 326; August 1, 2006, Patricia Austin, review of Here Lies the Librarian, p. 101; December 1, 2006, Michael Cart, review of On the Wings of Heroes, p. 48; July 1, 2007, Anna Rich, review of On the Wings of Heroes, p. 74.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March, 1977, Zena Sutherland, review of Are You in the House Alone?, pp. 111-112.

Horn Book, January, 2000, review of Amanda/Miranda, p. 82; November, 2000, Kitty Flynn, review of A Year down Yonder, p. 761; July, 2001, Richard Peck, Newbery Medal acceptance speech, p. 397; July, 2001, Marc Talbert, "Richard Peck," p. 403; November-December, 2001, Kitty Flynn, review of Fair Weather, p. 757; September-October, 2003, Peter D. Sieruta, review of The River between Us, p. 616; March-April, 2004, Betty Carter, review of Past Perfect, Present Tense, p. 187; September-October, 2004, Peter D. Sieruta, review of The Teacher's Funeral, p. 595; May-June, 2007, Betty Carter, review of On the Wings of Heroes, p. 287.

Kliatt, September, 2006, Carol Reich, review of Here Lies the Librarian, p. 57.

New York Times Book Review, November 14, 1976, Alix Nelson, "Ah, Not to Be Sixteen Again," p. 29; March 11, 2001, Jim Gladstone, review of A Year down Yonder, p. 27; November 18, 2001, Ilene Cooper, review of Fair Weather, p. 45.

Publishers Weekly, March 14, 1980, Jean F. Mercier, interview with Peck; July 6, 1998, review of A Long Way from Chicago, p. 61; September 25, 2000, review of A Year down Yonder, p. 118; July 23, 2001, review of Fair Weather, p. 77; July 14, 2003, review of The River between Us, p. 77; July 21, 2003, Jennifer M. Brown, "A Long Way from Decatur" (interview), pp. 169-170; November 10, 2003, review of The River between Us, p. 38; November 1, 2004, review of The Teacher's Funeral, p. 63; January 8, 2007, review of On the Wings of Heroes, p. 52.

School Library Journal, June, 1990, Roger Sutton, "A Conversation with Richard Peck," pp. 36-40; October, 1998, Shawn Brommer, review of A Long Way from Chicago, p. 144; September, 2000, Gerry Larson, review of A Year down Yonder, p. 236; September, 2001, Kit Vaughan, review of Fair Weather, p. 231; September, 2003, Connie Tyrrell Burns, review of The River between Us, p. 218; November, 2003, Carol Fazioli, review of Anonymously Yours, p. 83; April, 2004, Karen Hoth, review of Past Perfect, Present Tense, p. 160; August, 2004, Jane P. Fenn, review of The River between Us, p. 78; November, 2004, Susan Riley, review of The Teacher's Funeral, p. 152; September, 2006, Tricia Melgaard, review of Here Lies the Librarian, p. 70; April, 2007, Lee Bock, review of On the Wings of Heroes, p. 146; July, 2007, Charlie Osborne, review of On the Wings of Heroes, p. 57.

ONLINE

Children's Book Council Web site,http://www.cbcbooks.org/ (July 15, 2008), "Richard Peck."

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Peck, Richard (Wayne) 1934-

PECK, Richard (Wayne) 1934-

Personal

Born April 5, 1934, in Decantur, IL; son of Wayne Morris (a merchant) and Virginia (a dietician; maiden name, Gray) Peck. Education: Attended University of Exeter, 1955-56; DePauw University, B.A., 1956; Southern Illinois University, M.A., 1959; further graduate study at Washington University, 1960-61. Politics: Republican. Religion: Methodist.

Addresses

Home 155 East 72nd St., New York, NY 10021. Office c/o Penguin Putnam, Inc., 345 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014. Agent c/o Author Mail, Sheldon Fogelman, 155 East 72nd St., New York, NY 10021.

Career

Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, instructor in English, 1958-60; Glenbrook North High School, Northbrook, IL, teacher of English, 1961-63; Scott, Foresman Co., Chicago, IL, textbook editor, 1963-65; Hunter College of the City University of New York and Hunter College High School, instructor in English and education, 1965-71; writer, 1971. Assistant director, Council for Basic Education, Washington, DC, 1969-70; English-speaking Union fellow to Jesus College, Oxford, 1973; lecturer. Military service: U.S. Army, 1956-58; served in Stuttgart, Germany.

Member

Authors Guild, Authors League of America, Delta Chi.

Awards, Honors

Child Study Association of America Children's Book of the Year citations, 1970, for Sounds and Silences, 1971, for Mindscapes, and 1986, for Blossom Culp and the Sleep of Death; writing award, National Council for the Advancement of Education, 1971; Edgar Allan Poe Award runner-up, Mystery Writers of America, 1974, for Dreamland Lake; Friends of American Writers Award (older category), 1976, for The Ghost Belonged to Me; Edgar Allan Poe Award for best juvenile mystery novel, 1976, and Author's Award, New Jersey Institute of Technology, 1978, both for Are You in the House Alone?; New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year citation, 1977, for Ghosts I Have Been; Illinois Writer of the Year citation, Illinois Association of Teachers of English, 1977; School Library Journal Best of the Best citations, 1966-1978, for Dreamland Lake, and Father Figure; American Library Association (ALA) Young Adult Services Division's Best of the Best Books 1970-1983 citations, for Are You in the House Alone? and Ghosts I Have Been; Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults, 1990; Newbery Medal honorable mention, 1998, for A Long Way from Chicago; Newbery Medal, 2001, for A Year down Yonder; National Humanities Medal, 2001; National Book Award nomination, 2003, and Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, 2004, both for The River between Us. Many of Paulsen's books have been selected ALA Best Books for Young Adults, School Library Journal Best Books for Young Adults, and New York Library Books for the Teen Age.

Writings

YOUNG ADULT NOVELS

Don't Look and It Won't Hurt, Holt (New York, NY), 1972.

Through a Brief Darkness, Viking (New York, NY), 1973.

Representing Super Doll, Viking (New York, NY), 1974.

The Ghost Belonged to Me, Viking (New York, NY), 1975.

Are You in the House Alone? (with teacher's guide), Viking (New York, NY), 1976.

Ghosts I Have Been (sequel to The Ghost Belonged to Me ), Viking (New York, NY), 1977.

Father Figure, Viking (New York, NY), 1978.

Secrets of the Shopping Mall, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1979.

Close Enough to Touch, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1981.

The Dreadful Future of Blossom Culp, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1983.

Remembering the Good Times, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1985.

Blossom Culp and the Sleep of Death, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1986.

Princess Ashley, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1987.

Those Summer Girls I Never Met, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1988.

Dreamland Lake, Holt (New York, NY), 1973, Dell (New York, NY), 1990.

Unfinished Portrait of Jessica, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1991.

Bel-Air Bambi and the Mall Rats, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1993.

The Last Safe Place on Earth, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1995.

Lost in Cyberspace, Dial Books (New York, NY), 1995.

The Great Interactive Dream Machine: Another Adventure in Cyberspace, Dial Books (New York, NY), 1996.

A Long Way from Chicago: A Novel in Stories, Dial Books (New York, NY), 1998.

Strays like Us, Dial Books (New York, NY), 1998.

A Year down Yonder, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Fair Weather, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2001.

The River between Us, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2003.

The Teacher's Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2004.

JUVENILE

Monster Night at Grandma's House, illustrations by Don Freeman, Viking (New York, NY), 1977.

ADULT NOVELS

Amanda/Miranda, Viking (New York, NY), 1980.

New York Time, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1981.

This Family of Women, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1983.

Voices after Midnight, Dell (New York, NY), 1990.

London Holiday, Viking (New York, NY), 1998.

EDITOR

(With Ned E. Hoopes) Edge of Awareness: Twenty-five Contemporary Essays, Dell (New York, NY), 1966.

Sounds and Silences: Poetry for Now, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1970.

Mindscapes: Poems for the Real World, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1971.

Leap into Reality: Essays for Now, Dell (New York, NY), 1972.

Urban Studies: A Research Paper Casebook, Random House (New York, NY), 1973.

Transitions: A Literary Paper Casebook, Random House (New York, NY), 1974.

Pictures That Storm inside My Head (poetry anthology), Avon (New York, NY), 1976.

OTHER

(With Norman Strasma) Old Town, A Complete Guide: Strolling, Shopping, Supping, Sipping, 2nd edition, [Chicago, IL], 1965.

(With Mortimer Smith and George Weber) A Consumer's Guide to Educational Innovations, Council for Basic Education (Washington, DC), 1972.

(With Stephen N. Judy) The Creative Word 2, Random House (New York, NY), 1974.

Write a Tale of Terror, Book Lures, 1987.

Anonymously Yours (autobiography), Messner (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1991.

Life and Death at the Mall: Teaching and Writing for the Literate Young, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1994.

Invitations to the World: Reflections on Teaching and Writing for Young Adults, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Past Perfect, Present Tense: New and Collected Stories, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Author of column on historic architecture for New York Times. Contributor to books, including Literature for Today's Young Adults, edited by Kenneth L. Donelson and Alleen Pace Nilsen, Scott, Foresman, 1980; Sixteen: Short Stories by Outstanding Young Adult Writers, edited by Donald R. Gallo, Delacorte, 1984; Visions: Nineteen Short Stories by Outstanding Writers for Young Adults, edited by Gallo, Delacorte, 1987; and Connections: Short Stories by Outstanding Writers for Young Adults, edited by Gallo, Delacorte, 1989. Contributor of poetry to several anthologies. Contributor of poems to Saturday Review and Chicago Tribune Magazine. Contributor of articles to periodicals, including American Libraries, PTA Magazine, and Parents' Magazine.

Adaptations

Audio cassette versions of Peck's books include The Ghost Belonged to Me, Live Oak Media, 1976, Don't Look and It Won't Hurt (filmstrip with cassette), Random House, and Remembering the Good Times (cassette), Listening Library, 1987. Television movies based on his books include Are You in the House Alone?, CBS, 1977, Child of Glass (based on The Ghost Belonged to Me ), Walt Disney Productions, 1979, and Father Figure, Time-Life Productions, 1980. Cineville Production Company bought the film rights to Don't Look and It Won't Hurt in 1991.

Sidelights

Richard Peck's books on such important teen-age problems as suicide, unwanted pregnancy, death of a loved one, and rape have won critical praise for their realism and emotional power. Peck has written over a dozen very popular books for young adults, books that help young readers to develop self-confidence. He has also written adult novels that show men and women who are not confined to roles that traditionally belong to their gender. When writing for young adults, Peck told Roger Sutton in a School Library Journal interview, he thinks about potential readers: "As I'm typing I'm trying to look out over the typewriter and see faces. I don't certainly want to 'write for myself' because I'm trying to write across a generation gap." In books for both age groups, Peck told Jean F. Mercier in Publishers Weekly, he tries to "give readers leading characters they can look up to and reasons to believe that problems can be solved." The excellence of his work has been recognized by numerous awards, including the American Library Association's Young Adult Author Achievement Award in 1990 and the Newbery Medal in 2001 for A Year down Yonder.

Peck became familiar with contemporary adolescent problems while teaching high school. He liked his students, but after several years became discouraged and quit; teaching "had begun to turn into something that looked weirdly like psychiatric social work." Peck decided instead to write books for teenagers that featured the problems he had seen. "Ironically, it was my students who taught me to be a writer, though I had been hired to teach them, " he said in a speech published in Arkansas Libraries. "They taught me that a novel must entertain first before it can be anything else." He observed that young adults are most concerned with winning approval from their peers and seeking reassurance from their reading material. With these needs in mind, Peck writes about the passage from childhood to adulthood. He believes that in a young adult novel, typically "the reader meets a worthy young character who takes one step nearer maturity, and he or she takes that step independently."

His first novel, Don't Look and It Won't Hurt, is about a teenage pregnancy. Knowing that teens don't identify with main characters they view as losers, he told the story of alienation and healing from the viewpoint of the young mother's younger sister. The fifteen-year-old manages to keep her troubled family together, "parenting" her parents in a role reversal that appeals to readers of this age group. She is also helpful in the sister's recovery after deciding to give her baby up for adoption. The novel received much critical praise and became a popular success.

Peck's controversial novel about a teenage girl who is raped, Are You in the House Alone?, received the Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1976. Zena Sutherland, writing in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, was impressed by the novel's scope, saying that the author "sees clearly both society's problem and the victim's: the range of attitudes, the awful indignity, the fear and shame that is part of this kind of crime." Peck explained in his speech, "I did not write the novel to tell the young about rape. They already know what that is." He said he wrote it to warn the young that criminals are regrettably sometimes treated with more respect than victims even though victims of crime live in the shadow of that experience for the rest of their lives. Alix Nelson, writing in the New York Times Book Review, thought that Peck should be commended for reaching his audience and for teaching them about a topic that many other people in their lives avoid.

In his "Blossom Culp" books, Peck mixes humor and the supernatural. Set in the years 1913 and 1914, they feature spirited young Blossom Culp, who makes her own rules for life and has psychic powers. In such books as The Ghost Belonged to Me and Ghosts I Have Been, Blossom is revealed as a strong and resourceful young heroine. Through the use of time-travel plot devices, readers are introduced to Ancient Egypt and the women's suffrage movement in Blossom Culp and the Sleep of Death. The ghost characters in the "Culp" books are "distinct and memorable," wrote a contributor in the St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers. Past and future are also blended with ease in Peck's science-fiction-influenced novels Lost in Cyberspace and The Great Interactive Dream Machine.

Peck's female heroes are known for making their own decisions and exercising their freedom from the demands of peer pressure. He feels that these qualities are especially important for characters in teenage fiction. Writing in Literature for Today's Young Adults, Peck explained that young people need to see that the confining codes of behavior they live with as adolescents will not be imposed on them for the rest of their lives. He believes they need to see characters rewarded for making the kinds of free choices that young readers will soon have to make on their way to adulthood. He concludes that the future of young adult fiction is in "books that invite the young to think for themselves instead of for each other." "After twelve novels," he said in the speech, "I find I have only one theme. . . . It is simply that you will never grow up until you begin to think and act independently of your peers.

"My message is not, you will notice, to think and act independently of your parents, " he continued. "The young do not need that message. In the 1980's they have already won all their battles with their parents and their teachers, with all the adult world, and they have turned upon each other." Children raised in permissive homes tend not to look up to anyone because they see their parents and teachers as their servants, Peck told Sutton. They tend to look down on others while viewing themselves as heroes. Peck said in his speech that teens read books "mainly to find friendsfriends they can look up tobetter friends than they have or are."

Peck does not ignore social issues related to gender. In his books, he realistically portrays women in a period of social change in a variety of social roles. The self-reliant wives and businesswomen of his books "are contrasted with ineffectual girls and sometimes snobby mothers seemingly locked behind wide, curving drives and imposing front doors," Hilary Crew observed in Top of the News.

Close Enough to Touch, a love story written in response to a young man's request that Peck should write a book about dating, is "told by a boy, " the author said in his speech. "It might please some boys to be given this voice. It might surprise some girls that boys have emotions too. Mother never told them. Mothers are still telling daughters that boys only want one thing. How wrong they are. Boys want a great deal." When the boy's first girlfriend dies, he suddenly has to cope with the fact that just as no one had prepared him for intimacy with the opposite sex, no one has prepared him to face grief. "There is no sexual content in this book," Peck continued. "This is a novel about the emotions, not the senses."

Peck believes that American attitudes about public education have resulted in a system that has discouraged young people instead of equipping them for survival in the real world. He said in his speech that, fortunately, another America existsan America revealed through its literature. "This America is one of self-reliance and coming from behind; of characters who learn to accept the consequences of their actions; of happy endings worked for and almost achieved; of being young in an old world and finding your way in it; of a nation of people hasty and forgetful but full still of hope; of limitless distances and new beginnings and starting over; of dreams like mountaintops, and rivers that run to the sea. We owe our young this record of our dreams."

Such dreams energize A Long Way from Chicago and its companion volume, A Year down Yonder, winner of the 2001 Newbery Medal. In the first book, a novel comprised of seven related short stories, Chicago residents Joey and his younger sister travel each summer from 1929 to 1935 to visit their grandmother in a small Illinois town. Critics found Grandma Dowdel, Peck's central character, a strong and memorable figure who poaches catfish, brews her own beer, and delights in outsmarting her adversaries. The second book, narrated by fifteen-year-old Mary Alice, Grandma's granddaughter, offers a similar mix of "wit, gentleness, and outrageous farce," according to Booklist contributor Hazel Rochman. "Again," wrote Gerry Larson in School Library Journal, "Peck has created a delightful, insightful tale that resounds with a storyteller's wit, humor, and vivid description." In a third historical novel, Fair Weather, the Beckett family makes a whirlwind visit to the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition. Packed with entertaining period detail and offbeat adventures, the novel earned high praise. "Peck's unforgettable characters, cunning dialogue and fast-paced action," wrote a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, "will keep readers of all ages in stitches as he captures a colorful chapter in American history." A young man explores his family's complex history in Peck's 2003 novel The River between Us. The work opens in 1916, as Howard Hutchings travels with his family to Grand Tower, Illinois, where Howard's paternal grandparents, great-aunt, and great-uncle await them. The narrative then shifts to 1861, as Tilly Pruitt, Howard's grandmother, recalls the day two enigmatic women arrived by steamboat in Grand Tower, whose residents are divided by the events of the U.S. Civil War. The wealthy and beautiful Delphine Duval and her companion, the younger, darker-skinned Calinda, are taken in by the Pruitt family, though the women's relationship confounds the townspeople. When Noah Pruitt, Tilly's brother, joins the Union army and is wounded in battle, Tilly and Delphine are sent to bring him home; a secret is revealed, and the journey changes their lives forever. In The River between Us, "Peck masterfully describes the female Civil War experience, the subtle and not-too-subtle ways the country was changing, and the split in loyalty that separated towns and even families," noted School Library Journal contributor Connie Tyrell Burns. Hazel Rochman, reviewing the work in Booklist, stated that the author's "spare writing has never been more eloquent than in this powerful mystery in which personal secrets drive the plot and reveal the history." For this effort, Peck received the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. In The Teacher's Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts, a 2004 novel, "Peck fully and gracefully describes the family life of an era gone by," observed Kliatt reviewer Janis Flint-Ferguson. Set in 1904, The Teacher's Funeral is narrated by Russell Culver, a rural Indiana teenager whose older sister, Tansy, of his one-room schoolhouse after the death of the local instructor. Despite the chaos brought by her young charges, including a fire in the privy and a snake hidden in her desk, Tansy manages the classroom effectively and offers her students hope for the future. "Following the tradition of Mark Twain, Peck gently pokes fun at social manners and captures local color while providing first-rate entertainment," stated a reviewer in Publishers Weekly. "Best of all," remarked Booklist contributor Carolyn Phelan, "the dry wit and unpretentious tone make the story's events comical, its characters memorable, and its conclusion unexpectedly moving." Peck's strong sense of community infuses his works of historical fiction. "I'm reaching the age of nostalgia now," the author told Publishers Weekly interviewer Jennifer M. Brown, "when my beginnings are more vivid to me than all the years between. I realize now what a tremendous advantage it was to grow up where and when I did, with all races, ethnicities, and age groups jumbled together. It was the most nearly democratic place I ever lived."

In his Newbery Medal acceptance speech, published in Horn Book, Peck observed: "Powerful forces divorce the young from their roots and traditions....We writers and librarians, we people of the word, spot for survivors in a generation who have learned the wrong lesson from their elementary-school years; that yes, you should be able to read and write; yes, you should be literate. But if you're not, you will be accommodated."

When asked about what he hopes to accomplish with his writing for young adults, Peck told Sutton, "I don't know what books can do, except one point is that I wish every kid knew that fiction can be truer than fact, that it isn't a frivolous pastime unless your reading taste is for the frivolous. I wish they knew that being literate is a way of being successful in any field. I wish they all wanted to pit their own experience against the experiences they see in books." Peck concluded, "But in books you reach an awful lot of promising kids who write back good literate letters and give you hope. So that's the hope I have."

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Authors and Illustrators for Young Adults, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 1, 1988, Volume 24, 1998.

Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults, Beacham (Osprey, FL), Volume 1, 1990, Volume 6, 1994, Volume 8, 1994, Volume 11, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.

Children's Literature Review, Volume 15, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1988.

Konigsburg, E. L., editor, In My Own Words Series, Silver Burdette, 1991.

Literature for Today's Young Adults, edited by Kenneth L. Donelson and Alleen Pace Nilsen, Scott, Foresman (Glenview, IL), 1980.

St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.

Something about the Author Autobiography Series, Volume 2, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1986.

Twentieth-Century Children's Writers, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1989.

Writers for Young Adults, Scribner (New York, NY), 1997.

PERIODICALS

Arkansas Libraries, December, 1981, Richard Peck, "People of the Word," pp. 13-16.

Book, January, 2001, Kathleen Odean, review of A Year down Yonder, p. 83.

Booklist, September 1, 1998, Hazel Rochman, review of A Long Way from Chicago, p. 113; November 15, 1999, Frances Bradburn, review of Amanda/Miranda, p. 615; October 15, 2000, Hazel Rochman, review of A Year down Yonder, p. 436; April 2001, Barbara Wysocki, review of A Year down Yonder, p. 92; September 1, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of Fair Weather, p. 110; September 15, 2003, review of The River between Us, p. 239; April 1, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of Past Perfect, Present Tense: New and Collected Stories, p. 1361; October 1, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Teacher's Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts, p. 326.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March, 1977, Zena Sutherland, review of Are You in the House Alone?, pp. 111-112.

English Journal, February, 1976, pp. 97-99.

Horn Book, January, 2000, review of Amanda/Miranda, p. 82; November, 2000, Kitty Flynn, review of A Year down Yonder, p. 761; July, 2001, Richard Peck, Newbery Medal acceptance speech, p. 397; July, 2001, Marc Talbert, "Richard Peck," p. 403; November-December, 2001, Kitty Flynn, review of Fair Weather, p. 757; September-October, 2003, Peter D. Sieruta, review of The River between Us, p. 616; March-April, 2004, Betty Carter, review of Past Perfect, Present Tense, p. 187; September-October, 2004, Peter D. Sieruta, review of The Teacher's Funeral, p. 595.

Los Angeles Times, April 3, 1981.

New York Times, January 16, 2001, Eden Ross Lispon, "Prizes Awarded in Children's Literature," p. B9.

New York Times Book Review, June 27, 1971; November 12, 1972; July 27, 1975, p. 8; November 14, 1976, Alix Nelson, "Ah, Not to Be Sixteen Again," p. 29; December 2, 1979; March 11, 2001, Jim Gladstone, review of A Year down Yonder, p. 27; November 18, 2001, Ilene Cooper, review of Fair Weather, p. 45.

Psychology Today, September, 1975, pp. 11, 75.

Publishers Weekly, March 14, 1980, Jean F. Mercier, interview with Peck; December 19, 1994, p. 55; March 6, 1995, p. 71; September 4, 1995, p. 70; September 2, 1996, p. 131; July 6, 1998, review of A Long Way from Chicago, p. 61; September 25, 2000, review of A Year down Yonder, p. 118; January 22, 2001, Diane Roback, "Penguin Snags Newbery, Caldecott Medals," p. 176; July 23, 2001, review of Fair Weather, p. 77; July 14, 2003, review of The River between Us, p. 77; July 21, 2003, Jennifer M. Brown, "A Long Way from Decatur" (interview), pp. 169-170; November 10, 2003, review of The River between Us, p. 38; January 19, 2004, "Richard Peck Wins O'Dell Prize," p. 26; November 1, 2004, review of The Teacher's Funeral, p. 63.

School Library Journal, May, 1986, pp. 37-39; June, 1990, Roger Sutton, "A Conversation with Richard Peck," pp. 36-40; May, 1992, p. 147; December, 1993, p. 27; October, 1994, p. 49; April, 1995, p. 154; September, 1995, p. 202; September, 1996, p. 206; October, 1998, Shawn Brommer, review of A Long Way from Chicago, p. 144; September, 2000, Gerry Larson, review of A Year down Yonder, p. 236; September, 2001, Kit Vaughan, review of Fair Weather, p. 231; June, 2002, "Richard Peck Wins National Humanities Medal," p. 16; September, 2003, Connie Tyrrell Burns, review of The River between Us, p. 218; November, 2003, Carol Fazioli, review of Anonymously Yours, p. 83; April, 2004, Karen Hoth, review of Past Perfect, Present Tense, p. 160; August, 2004, Jane P. Fenn, review of The River between Us, p. 78; November, 2004, Susan Riley, review of The Teacher's Funeral, p. 152.

Top of the News, winter, 1978, pp. 173-177; spring, 1987, Hilary Crew, "Blossom Culp and Her Ilk: The Independent Female in Richard Peck's YA Fiction," pp. 297-301.

Washington Post Book World, November 10, 1974, p. 8; May 1, 1983.

Young Adult Cooperative Book Review, February, 1977.

ONLINE

Richard Peck Home Page, http://richardpeck.smartwriters.com (March 25, 2005).*

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