Richard Peck has written more than thirty novels, and in the process has become one of America's most highly respected writers for young people. A versatile author, he is beloved by middle-graders as well as young adults for his comedies and coming of age novels. He lives in New York City and spends a great deal of time traveling around the country to speaking engagements at conferences, schools and libraries.
Mr. Peck is the first children's book author to have received a National Humanities Medal in a White House ceremony in 2002. He was a representative of American writers to the Russian National Book Festival in Moscow in 2005. In addition, he has won a number of other major awards for his body of work, including the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement, the ALAN Award and the Medallion from the University of Southern Mississippi. In addition, the Mystery Writers of America twice gave him their Edgar Award. Many of his books have received commendations, including A Year Down Yonder, which won the 2001 Newbery Medal while its prequel, A Long Way from Chicago, was a National Book Award Finalist and a Newbery Honor Book. Richard Peck's newest, A Season of Gifts, is the companion novel to A Year Down Yonder and A Long Way From Chicago, and has received 5 starred reviews.
If you are interested in having Richard Peck make an appearance at your school, library, or conference, please use the online request form or email the Author Appearance Coordinator at authorvisits[at]us.penguingroup.com with possible dates, your school name, location, details about the day, and your contact information.
Author Appearance Q&A with Richard Peck:
What is a typical appearance like with you? What do you do differently with audiences of varying sizes, ages, and interests?
When professional organizations ask me to speak, I prepare; I write it out, and I act it out. As with a novel, the rhythm of the line is as important as its message. I think people appreciate the prepared speech, and I try to time it five minutes short. Nobody ever shoots you for quitting early. And when you aren't the only speaker on the program, the shortest speech wins.
When the audience is young, I hope to elicit responses from them and build our time upon their voices, not mine. But it all depends. Sixth-graders have answers to every question. Fourth-graders have answers to questions you didn't ask. Eighth-graders have no answers, for anything. Still, trying to get a rise out of the young is the most fun there is.
What makes your author appearances unique?
I am the one without PowerPoint.
Do you enjoy making appearances for adult audiences? What do you do when presenting to adults?
I love meeting with my fellow adults. My novels are for readers of all ages, and having separate juvenile and adult departments in publishing wasn't my idea. The best audience is composed of families with all ages together. A book unites what the computer divides.
What can your hosts do to ensure a successful appearance?
An author visit is only as successful as the preparation of the audience. I like to recognize young readers in audiences limited to them. This is increasingly difficult to do in schools. My favorite groups are limited to the readers in the library, not the classroom. I want to give them a little extra credit for literacy; I don't think they're getting it from their peer groups.
Are you still booking for 2010?
I'm now booking for the second half of 2010.
What do you hope your audience will come away with from your presentation?
When I was young, if I'd seen a living writer of anything, it would have given me permission to dream.
What was one of your favorite appearance experiences?
I'm just back from Washington and a podcast for the Kennedy Center. It was an interview by two creative writing students in front of a studio audience of aspiring high-school writers.
I'm never invited to high schools now. (Evidently, the literate read only the "classics," and I am presently alive.) But the Kennedy Center cut through that and drew in avid young writers from several schools. We had a wonderful time. They could ask questions about writing and a writing career their teachers can't answer. And they were free to ask them because they were there in a room full of the like-minded. I loved every minute and came away with hope.
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