In Past Perfect, Present Tense
, Newbery award winning author Richard Peck
ruminates on the finer points of short story writing in concise but curmudgeonly prose. Peck provides introductory notes for each of four sections; "The First" explores his well-known early work "Priscilla and the Wimps;" "The Past" includes Peck's historical shorts; "The Supernatural" is a collection of four well-crafted ghost stories; and "The Present" showcases Peck's more recent contemporary fare. Peck rounds out the four sections of stories with two brief chapters of writing advice that speak to the reader with the clarity of personal experience. Notable excerpts include: "You have to read a thousand stories before you can write one;" and "The only writing is rewriting, and I write each of my...stories six times because I can't get them well-wrapped in the first five tries."
Peck never condescends to his audience of aspiring young writers. Instead, his tone will remind readers of their very favorite English teacher, the one that respected and encouraged their clumsy first endeavors. Peck is, and has always been, the standard against which other Young Adult authors have been measured, and any aspiring teen writer would do well to study the pages of Past Perfect, Present Tense before embarking on their first piece of fiction. (Ages 10 and older) --Jennifer Hubert
From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up-This collection of 11 previously published stories and two new ones begins with an introduction to fiction writing by Peck and the first story he ever wrote for publication, "Priscilla and the Wimps." The other stories are divided into sections of "The Past," "The Supernatural," and "The Present," with insightful explanations introducing each part. Concluding pages discuss writing short stories and offer five helpful hints. What's wonderful about this title is not only the quality of the writing, but also the additional information it offers about the craft and the author. The stories perfectly highlight Peck's range and expertise at characterization. Almost every one is a superb read-aloud and the humor is enjoyable for high school as well as middle school students. Peck's messages that "Nobody but a reader ever became a writer" and the importance of reading should be copied and placed on every English class bulletin board. This superior collection is a must for every library.-Karen Hoth, Marathon Middle/High School, FL
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