Children’s Literature Author, Richard Peck



Sadly, author, Richard Peck, has died (May 23, 2018). The author of over 40 books, he won a Newbery Medal for A Year Down Yonder in 2001, a Newbery honor in 1999 for A Long Way from Chicago, and a National Humanities Medal in 2002. Fifteen or twenty years ago Richard Peck came to Pittsburgh for a Western PA SCBWI conference, and my husband and I along with my friend and author, Colleen McKenna and her husband had the pleasure of taking him out to brunch. Bob and I then drove him to the airport for his return home. He was a delightful, kind guy. In 2013 he spoke at the LA summer conference of the SCBWI, and Bob and I went to his workshop on first sentences. He said that often he’d written 250 pages before finding his title and first sentence, but he thought that these two elements were critical steps to discovering the books’ main themes. At the end of the workshop, we joined the many going onstage to greet him. Richard came forward and hugged me, remembering our brunch and car ride together. Although the conspicuousness of blindness is a perk in being remembered, I also think Richard was the sort of person who truly registered his interactions with others. His head hadn’t been turned by success. I found him bright and funny, sensitive, respectful, dignified, a person who exhibited the finest qualities of the human spirit, as co-head of the SCBWI, Lynn Oliver, said in her remembrance of him. Fortunately, we can still connect to him through reading his many books. Thank you, Richard Peck.


About Sally Hobart Alexander

Blinded at the age of twenty-six, I left California and elementary school teaching for life in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, I met my husband, got a Masters' degree in social work, had two kids, now 35 and 32, and became a writer. Surprisingly, the writing career led me full-circle to teaching, and I teach in Chatham University's M.F.A. program and lead two writing critique groups. Always, since the age of 26, I have traveled, not in the stereotypic darkness attributed to blindness, but a mist. My blog then, "traveling through the mist" will deal with issues in my culturally different life as a blind writer, teacher, speaker, and human being.
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