DECATUR — Award-winning children's author and Decatur native Richard Peck died on Wednesday at the age of 84, according to his sister, Cheryl Peck of Springfield.
Peck wrote more than 40 books for young readers. He was the winner of the 1990 Margaret A. Edwards Award, a prestigious award sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association of the American Library Association in cooperation with the School Library Journal; the 1990 National Council of Teachers of English/ALAN Award for outstanding contributions to young adult literature; and the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Award.
In 2001, Peck was awarded the Newbery Medal for “A Year Down Under” and received the National Humanities Medal. He was nominated for National Book Award in 2003, won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction and the Jeremiah Ludington Memorial Award in 2004, and the ALAN Award in 2005.
He grew up attending Decatur's public schools and visited periodically as an adult to meet students and talk with them. He even used Decatur's West End as a setting for “On the Wings of Heroes,” a World War II novel.
Peck was an Army veteran and taught English until quitting to write full time. He lived in New York City.