I admitted not too long ago that I had never read anything by Richard Peck. After he was one of our surprise keynote speakers at SCBWI – I vowed I would pick up something by him simply because he is such a charming man.
For those upper middle graders who aren’t so much into fantasy, Here Lies the Libriarian might do the trick. Especially for kids who are into historical fiction and/or old cars.
But you don’t have to be a history or car buff to enjoy this story.
Peewee idolizes Jake, a big brother whose dreams of auto mechanic glory are fueled by the hard road coming to link their Indiana town and futures with the twentieth century. And motoring down the road comes Irene Ridpath, a young librarian with plans to astonish them all and turn Peewee’s life upside down. Here Lies the Librarian, with its quirky characters, folksy setting, classic cars, and hilariously larger-than-life moments, is vintage Richard Peck. An offbeat, deliciously wicked comedy that is also unexpectedly moving.
I’ve been thinking about voice recently b/c the last few YA novels I have read were lacking in voice. At least, they were a kind of “generic” teenage girl voice that I thought could have been interchanged.
In a recent post by Barbara Watson, she said that “middle grade voice is, perhaps, the most difficult voice to nail.” And it’s vital b/c without it, your reader might not care about the characters.
In Here Lies the Librarian, voice is one of the first things that drew me into the story. As soon as I started reading I thought, here’s something authentic and unique. The quirk also drew me in, both in Peck’s writing style (great turns of phrases) and his colorful characters. These are characters I think I would recognize if they were walking down the street.
Peck also does an amazing job of capturing the feel of 1914 rural midwest U.S. from 14-year-old’s perspective (and that’s all I’m going to say about the protag, because I don’t want to give anything away).
There’s a bit of excitement with some of the troublesome neighbors, but no real gore, which might be a plus for those moms out there concerned with violence in MG lit.
Now, I have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to Richard Peck, so please do share with me your favourite Peck books. I’ll keep a list of the ones in order of recommendations.
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