Although he has graced New York for many decades, obdurate Illinoisan Richard Peck, late of Decatur and Rogers Park, came home to a hero's welcome at the 25th Zena Sutherland lecture last Friday, garnering the largest audience yet at that event. Peck is a gifted speaker, with a particular talent for making people feel like they agree with him even when they don't. ("I don't agree with a word you said," Virginia Hamilton once said to him, "but I love the way you said it.") While Peck's lecture ranged widely and smoothly over such topics as his family, his writing, the history of YA literature (with special tribute paid to Robert Cormier) and the state of contemporary education, through it all ran a strong thread of respect for teenagers and the challenges they face (poor schooling, indifferent parenting, the tyranny of peers) on the road to adulthood. I liked it. We'll be publishing the lecture in an upcoming issue of the Magazine, so look for it.
Below, Richard Peck with CPL Children's Services Director Bernie Nowakowski: