After a long and challenging day, I reached into our book closet, pulled out a somewhat random choice and started reading to a young friend of mine.
We were a little mad at each other at the time, and I only saw the top of his head poking out from his bed covers and surrounding stuffed animals, and two big eyes glaring at me.
Then, I began to read, A long way from Chicago and it led us both into the charming, irreverent, secretly educational world of Richard Peck.
“Hey, my eyes are going to close now but my ears are still open,” Mr. Big Eyes said. “So, keep reading.”
I did and, one chapter a night, we read our way through that book, its sequel A Year Down Yonder and The Teacher’s Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts.
We’re starting The Best Man tonight and we’re both really looking forward to it.
I wanted to write Mr. Peck a thank you note to let him know how important his books have become to our unconventional household. Not only do they expose young readers to the joys of excellent prose, but they also let them fall asleep with vivid, relatable characters and their hilarious antics in their heads, a welcome distraction from some of the real-life troubles rooted up there.
Sadly, I discovered that the Newberry Award winning author died last year following a long bout with cancer.
I decided to thank him anyway for all the reasons I mentioned and for the other 37 novels he wrote, a literary legacy that should keep us busy at our one chapter a night pace for quite some time. (We are choosing our order somewhat carefully, though, because some of his novels are not as geared for young adults.)
Mr. Peck once wrote, “I read because one of these days I’m going to get out of this town, and I’m going to go everywhere and meet everybody, and I want to be ready.”
For that reason and so many more we’re so grateful we discovered the real and zany world of Richard Peck.