Jan Peck Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Female. Hobbies and other interests: Organic gardening.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, Simon & Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.
Writer. Auntie Em's (vegetarian restaurant), former cook; freelance editor for Boys' Life.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Author's Guild, Authors League.
Best Children's Books of the Year, Bank Street College, 1998; Kentucky Bluegrass Award Master List inclusion, 1999, Pennsylvania Young Readers' Choice Award Master List, and Maryland Black-eyed Susan Award Master List inclusion, both 1999-2000, and Arkansas Diamond Award Master List inclusion, 2000-01, all for The Giant Carrot.
The Giant Carrot, illustrated by Barry Root, Dial Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1998.
Way down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea, illustrated by Valeria Petrone, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2003.
Way up High in the Tall Green Tree, illustrated by Valeria Petrone, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor to periodicals, including Highlights for Children, Boy's Life, Humpty Dumpty, and Turtle, and to anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul, 1998, Distant Lights, and The Neighborhood Nine.
An award-winning writer, Jan Peck is the author of The Giant Carrot and Way down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea.
As a former cook for a vegetarian restaurant and an avid organic gardener, Peck assuredly knows a thing or two about carrots, and she shares this wealth of knowledge with readers in The Giant Carrot. The book, set in Texas and adapted from an old Russian folktale, focuses on a family whose members each decide to grow a carrot. When Papa Joe plants his carrot seed, he hankers for a glass of fresh carrot juice; Mama Bess, on the other hand, hopes for carrot stew, while brother Abel wants a jar of carrot relish. Everyone gets together to tend the plant as it grows, but despite their ministrations, it is daughter Isabelle who provides the ingredient that makes the carrot exceed all expectations: when she sings and dances the root vegetable grows, and becomes so big that everyone has enough carrot for their special recipe. Praising Barry Root's "carrot-colored folk-style illustrations in watercolor and gouache," Hazel Rochman wrote in Booklist that The Giant Carrot is a good choice for story hour due to its repetitive text and "slapstick." Praising Peck's "slapstick" text and "downhome language," Beth Tegart noted in School Library Journal that the book "begs to be read aloud."
In Way down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea "a familiar premise feels unexpectedly fresh" according to a Kirkus Reviews critic who dubbed Peck's book about a young boy who encounters underwater creatures of all sorts during tubby time an "engaging underwater adventure." In the story a young boy dives deep into the water looking for treasure, and each time he encounters a new sea animal. Peck uses rhyming verses to tell her tale, and the text is highlighted by bright double-page illustrations by Valeria Petrone. Julie Roach, writing in School Library Journal, commented that the story offers "good opportunities for interaction with children during storytime," while in Publishers Weekly a writer noted that the tale would be "best for youngest picture-book fans" due to its "deliberately repetitive text" and lack of truly scary incidents.
On her Web site, Peck gives some advice to beginning writers: "The good news is that writing is not easy and only a few writers will put in the effort to make it. The bad news is that writing is not easy and only a few people will put in the effort to make it. Are you one of those few? Or one of the many?
"Benjamin Bloom, a noted educational researcher, studied about how children become masters in various fields. They started out by falling in love with what they were doing. The second phase was practicing. This is the arduous, frustrating stage. The last phase is mastery! If you keep trying you will make it."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, March 15, 1998, Hazel Rochman, review of The Giant Carrot, p. 1246.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2004, review of Way down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea, p. 335.
Publishers Weekly, February 16, 1998, review of The Giant Carrot, p. 210; May 10, 2004, review of Way down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea, p. 57.
School Library Journal, February, 1998, Beth Tegart, review of The Giant Carrot, p. 103; July, 2004, Julie Roach, review of Way down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea, p. 84.
Jan Peck Web site, http://www.janpeck.com (February 28, 2005).
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