THANK YOU, RICHARD PECK (April 5, 1934 – May 23, 2018)

We met in Miami when Destiny dropped me in the seat next to you at a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators pre-conference dinner for volunteers and faculty.

Our paths had crossed once before, at my first SCBWI conference where you’d signed one of your fabulous books for me and kicked off the event with a spell-binding key-note beginning with how you remembered a time when blackberries were just a fruit that grew on bushes. Did you ever add apples to that speech?

Thank you, Richard Peck, for sharing your experience, expertise, and exceptional wit far and wide.

Speaking of  your humour, these few lines barely tip the iceberg of my favourites:
“‘Never trust an ugly woman. She’s got a grudge against the world,’ said Grandma who was no oil painting herself.” From  A Long Way from Chicago.
“‘Grandma, how old is she?’
‘Oh I don’t know,’ said Grandma. ‘You’d have to cut off her head and count the rings in her neck.’” From A Year Down Yonder.

Back in Miami, as the SCBWI’s newly appointed regional advisor for Germany and Austria, I sat at one corner of the table beside you and Brenda Bowen. My heart raced. My face flushed. Sweat would have streamed from my temples had the air conditioner not been blasting from the vent directly above our heads. You, a children’s literature giant, Brenda, an accomplished editor, and me, the pip-squeak writer, searching for her place in the literary world. There really was no need for bodily malfunctions, though. You bundled me in your gracious and engaging nature, immediately including me in the conversation. We three laughed. We ruminated. We looked forward to the weekend at hand.

Thank you, Richard Peck, for warmly welcoming me into the fold.

I shall forever hold you in my heart as the kind, generous, and dashing fun-loving spirit who took the time to acknowledge our ‘you had to be there’ moment. Did Santa surprise you? (*wink*wink*) Not as much as your thoughtful and endearing message did, I’m sure!

Did I ever thank you for introducing me to my agent? Well, in an especially bittersweet way, you did. When I saw you were on faculty for the SCBWI chapter of CA North/Central Spring Spirit Conference in 2013, I did not hesitate signing up. A chance to see you again and hear you speak? No way would I miss that! AND critiques by an agent and 3 editors were also being offered. I jumped on that bucking bull, too, scared as I was, but yearning for industry feedback. In the end, you were unable to make it. Illness, they said. I prayed it wasn’t anything serious. I signed with Stephen Fraser of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency a few weeks later.

Thank you, Richard Peck, for inspiring me to reach for the stars.

Thank you, Richard Peck, for sharing your great wisdom,
your genuine, heartfelt, thought-provoking stories,
and so much of yourself
with the world.

RIP dear Richard. It has been a pleasure and an honour to have met you.


Here is a link to a Dropbox folder containing the program, copies of the texts, and the video shown at Richard Peck’s memorial ~

If you’ve never heard Richard Peck speak, you’re in for a treat ~ his writing process, where he gets his ideas from, advice on writing, including Q & A from his young readers ~ Enjoy!

About Donna Gwinnell Lambo-Weidner

I am an adventure seeking ponderer of the mysteries of the universe, writer of children's books (represented by Stephen Fraser of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency), and lover of anything involving armor, archery, or swashbuckling.
This entry was posted in ADVENTURES, AWESOME PEOPLE, IN MEMORIUM and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to THANK YOU, RICHARD PECK (April 5, 1934 – May 23, 2018)

  1. Well, these quotes (particularly counting the rings in her neck) make me want to go on a Richard Peck binge. Thank you for planting this seed. (And how lucky you were to know him—truly fun.)


  2. Diana says:

    What a nice tribute.


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