April 5, 1934 – May 23, 2018In 2001 I was working as a marketing manager for Borders. One of my main duties was handling events at the stores in my district.
After the attacks on September 11th, all author events were canceled. Airlines canceled flights, of course, and publishers canceled author tours. Non-essential business travel was probably under review at just about every company in the country.
The only event that wasn’t canceled in the stores I managed in those immediate weeks following 9/11 was Richard Peck.
He was scheduled to appear at our Geneva, Illinois store just days after the attacks. Like most other authors heading out of New York, Mr. Peck’s flights were canceled, but that didn’t stop him. He rented a car and drove to his events.
It was an honor to meet Mr. Peck, who was in his late 60s at the time. He arrived at the store dressed in a lovely suit. When I expressed appreciation for his dedication he said he was there for his readers, the young people who needed to connect to books and ideas more than ever in that time of fear and uncertainty.
Over the years since that day, I’ve often thought about Mr. Peck and his commitment to his readers. I was reminded of him again today when picking up a book on hold. At my public library, children’s books that are requested from other libraries are held on shelves in the children’s section, a part of the library I normally have no need to frequent.
Right next to the hold shelf I couldn’t help but notice this run of The Best Man, Peck’s last book (2016). The yellow stickers signify that it has been nominated for a Nutmeg Book Award for Intermediate Readers.
Today has been a day of memories and tributes.
In the midst of remembering the horror of that day and mourning those who died, I am grateful to Richard Peck for adding a bright memory to those dark days.