Richard Peck passed away on May 24, 2018, at the age of 84. Island Readers & Writers was fortunate to work with him in 2014, doing multiple community visits on Mount Desert Island and outer islands.
A Long Way from Chicago was a National Book Award finalist and a Newbery silver medalist in 1999. Its sequel, A Year Down Yonder, won the Newbery Award in 2001.
The River Between Us, his Civil War story, was another National Book Award finalist and won the Scott O’Dell prize in historical fiction. He authored forty books for young readers, and as all-family reads.
He was the first children’s writer to receive a National Humanities Medal, in a White House ceremony in 2002. In 2005 he was a representative of American writers at the first Russian National Book Festival in Moscow.
Richard Peck was born in Decatur, Illinois. After attending Exeter University in England, he graduated from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. He was a soldier and a teacher. “I began writing on June 24th, 1971, after seventh period,” he said. “I had to quit teaching in order to communicate with the young. But then the only way you can write is by the light of the bridges burning behind you.”
Download the 2014 IRW Discussion Questions for A Long Way From Chicago.