Richard Peck, 1934-2018

May 24, 2018 | Book Buzz

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Richard_peck_8853 (1)Richard Peck, award-winning writer of young adult books, was born and spent his childhood in Decatur, Illinois. He credited his parents with inspiring his writing career. He loved the stories his mother read him when he was small declaring, "I wanted to be a writer before I could read". His father ran a gas station that was a gathering place for local men and Peck said that listening to their conversations made him fall in love with the past and more deeply with storytelling. 

After graduating with a B.A. in English from DePauw University in 1956, Peck spent two years in Germany as a chaplain's assistant with the US Army. When he returned to the United States, he attended Southern Illinois University where he graduated in 1959 with a Master's degree and was a teacher until 1971 when he decided to write full time. His first book "Don't Look and it Won't Hurt" was released in 1972. The Best Man, the last of his 41 books, was published in 2016.


Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction
2004: The River Between Us [eAudiobook format]

Newberry Medal
2001: A Year Down Yonder

Edgar Award for Best Juvenile
1977: Are You In the House Alone?

In 1990, Peck received the Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library Association. The award recognizes an author and a specific body of work for "significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature". In bestowing the award, the committee stated that "[t]hrough sharp wit and strong storytelling, Richard Peck's novels encourage readers to carefully examine the world around them as well as to seek possibilities beyond immediate view."

Peck died at home in New York City on May 23, 2018. He was 84.

[Photo credit: By slowking [GFDL 1.2 (], from Wikimedia Commons]