Peck, Beth 1957–
Peck, Beth 1957–
Born August 11, 1957, in New York, NY; daughter of Irwin (a stationery store owner) and Esther Peck; married Alan Block (a teacher); children: Emma, Rose. Education: Rhode Island School of Design, B.F.A; additional study at Art Students League and National Academy of Design; has studied with artists Uri Shulevitz, Harvey Dinnerstien, Gregg Krautz, and Burt Silverman. Politics: "Democrat/left of center." Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Reading.
Home and office—Menomonie, WI.
Children's book illustrator. Freelance mechanical artist and designer. Has lectured at schools and adult conferences.
Bruce Coville, Sarah and the Dragon, Lippincott (Philadelphia, PA), 1984.
Joan Carris, Witch-Cat, Lippincott (Philadelphia, PA), 1984.
Patricia Wrightson, Night Outside, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1985.
Bonnie Pryor, The House on Maple Street, Morrow (New York, NY), 1987.
Ann Turner, Time of the Bison, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1987.
Eve Bunting, How Many Days to America?: A Thanksgiving Story, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1988.
Ann Tompert, The Silver Whistle, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1988.
Truman Capote, A Christmas Memory, Knopf (New York, NY), 1989, reprinted, 2006.
Edna St. Vincent Millay, The Ballad of the Harp Weaver, Philomel Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Rebecca C. Jones, Matthew and Tilly, Dutton (New York, NY), 1991.
Eve Bunting, The Day before Christmas, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1992.
Paul Gallico, The Snow Goose, Knopf (New York, NY), 1992.
Nancy Smiler Levinson, Sweet Notes, Sour Notes, Dutton (New York, NY), 1993.
Elvira Woodruff, Dear Levi: Letters from the Overland Trail, Knopf (New York, NY), 1994.
Liz Rosenberg, Grandmother and the Runaway Shadow, Philomel (New York, NY), 1994.
Truman Capote, The Thanksgiving Visitor, Knopf (New York, NY), 1996.
Barbara T. Russell, Remembering Stone, DK Publishing (New York, NY), 1999.
Colby F. Rodowsky, Jason Rat-a-Tat, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2001.
Esther Rudomin Hautzig, A Picture of Grandmother, Frances Foster Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Jane Kurtz, Bicycle Madness, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2003.
Jennifer Bryant, Music for the End of Time, Erdmans Books for Young Readers (Grand Rapids, MI), 2005.
Cynthia Cotten, Abbie in Stitches, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2006.
Sharon Reiss Baker, A Nickel, a Trolley, a Treasure House, Viking (New York, NY), 2007.
The illustrations of artist Beth Peck have been paired with stories by a number of respected children's authors, among them Eve Bunting, Paul Gallico, Angela Johnson, and Joan Carris. "Peck's softly evocative pencil sketches" in Nancy Smiler Levinson's Sweet Notes, Sour Notes "expand on the reassuringly cozy proceedings of the steady narrative," according to a Publishers Weekly critic. Her earth-toned paintings for Liz Rosenberg's immigrant story Grandmother and the Runaway Shadow feature "rhythmic, sweeping lines," and "capture the vitality of the period," according to Booklist contributor Hazel Rochman. In reviewing Jason Rat-a-Tat, a story by Colby Rodowsky about a young boy whose interests run to music rather than to the sports that the rest of his family loves, Booklist critic Gillian Engberg concluded that "Peck's realistic line drawings," which depict "family scenes with appealing detail," contribute to a "quiet, moving story [that] will resonate with kids who have recently transitioned to chapter books."
Peck's charcoal illustrations for Jane Kurtz's Bicycle Madness "clarify details about the period, especially the cumbersome fashions" popular during the novel's nineteenth-century setting, according to a Publishers Weekly critic, and Marie Orlando agreed that Peck's "drawings enhance the period flavor" of Kurtz's "flavorful slice of historical fiction." "Peck's strong, evocative pastels with their vintage look are just right for Johnson's home run of a story," maintained a Kirkus Reviews writer in reviewing the illustrator's work for Angela Johnson's picture book Just like Josh Gibson. The "well-designed, richly colored pastel artwork … is clearly the highlight of the book," concluded Susan Scheps in her School Library Journal of the story about a legendary Negro League baseball player. Dubbing Music for the End of Time a "handsome picture book," Booklist critic Hazel Rochman added that Jen Bryant's wartime story benefits from "Peck's beautiful charcoal-and-pastel double-page spreads," while in School Library Journal Jane Marino praised the artist's "softly flowing watercolor paintings."
Peck once told SATA: "In my early twenties, quite by accident, I came in contact with two stories, A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote and The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico. For many years I carried the images from these stories with me. Years later, after I had established myself as an illustrator, I started to think about these two stories and how much they meant to me. Both stories had been published for many years yet had never been illustrated. And so it came to be; in the years that followed I was able to illustrate both these stories. I give special mention to these stories because I initiated their existence as illustrated editions, but I have enjoyed all the stories and images I have had an opportunity to work with.
"I graduated from the illustration department of the Rhode Island School of Design in 1979, yet I did not feel ready to illustrate. I worked as a paste-up mechanical artist for six months full-time and then began to freelance. I studied at the Art Students League on Fridays and Saturdays taking figure-drawing classes. I also
took an illustration class at the School of Visual Arts. Over time, I connected with a nice design firm on Long Island where I did mechanicals and received my first few illustration assignments. I moved into the city with my husband and accidentally landed a freelance mechanical job at Dial Books where I met Atha Tehon. I worked designing books, which I enjoyed, yet drawing was still my passion. I must mention that I also studied with Uri Shulevitz learning how to plan out a picture book.
"I had gotten my first two books from Harper & Row. Working with Atha at Dial, and seeing the artwork come in, I began to feel I might have a place illustrating picture books. I continued to send samples out and send my portfolio around. I received my first full-color picture-book assignment from William Morrow and from there began to have steady illustration work. I continued at Dial part-time.
"I sporadically studied at the League and National Academy of Design and privately with the painter and illustrator Burt Silverman. The process has been slow and continues, and each new book feels as if I'm illustrating for the first time. The process of dreaming and imagining in combination with work and effort can be so powerful; it has helped me accomplish a few of my dreams slowly and over a period of time. I hope to continue this over a lifetime."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, April 1, 1996, Hazel Rochman, review of Grandmother and the Runaway Shadow, p. 1373; June 1, 2002, Gillian Engberg, review of Jason Rat-a-Tat, p. 1725; October 15, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of Bicycle Madness, p. 412; February 15, 2004, Gillian Engberg, review of Just like Josh Gibson, p. 1077; September 1, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of Music for the End of Time, p. 126; September 1, 2006, Julie Cummins, review of Abbie in Stitches, p. 135.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2003, review of Just like Josh Gibson, p. 1450; August 1, 2005, review of Music for the End of Time, p. 845; August 1, 2006, review of Abbie in Stitches, p. 783.
Publishers Weekly, October 18, 1991, review of The Ballad of the Harp Weaver, p. 61; June 14, 1993, review of Sweet Notes, Sour Notes, p. 71; September 22, 2003, review of Bicycle Madness, p. 104; January 12, 2004, review of Just like Josh Gibson, p. 53.
School Library Journal, October, 2003, Marie Orlando, review of Bicycle Madness, p. 170; March, 2004, Susan Scheps, review of Just like Josh Gibson, p. 172; December, 2005, Jane Marino, review of Music for the End of Time, p. 124; September, 2006, Margaret Bush, review of Abbie in Stitches, p. 164.