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Past Perfect, Present Tense: New and Collected Stories Hardcover – April 26, 2004


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Dial; First Edition edition (April 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803729987
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803729988
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,998,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Richard Peck has written over twenty novels, and in the process has become one of America's most highly respected writers for young adults. A versatile writer, he is beloved by middle graders as well as young adults for his mysteries and coming-of-age novels. He now lives in New York City. In addition to writing, he spends a great deal of time traveling around the country attending speaking engagements at conferences, schools and libraries...Mr. Peck has won a number of major awards for the body of his work, including the Margaret A. Edwards Award from School Library Journal, the National Council of Teachers of English/ALAN Award, and the 1991 Medallion from the University of Southern Mississippi. Virtually every publication and association in the field of children s literature has recommended his books, including Mystery Writers of America which twice gave him their Edgar Allan Poe Award. Dial Books for Young Readers is honored to welcome Richard Peck to its list with Lost in Cyberspace and its sequel The Great Interactive Dream Machine...

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on September 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A grandmother plays a practical joke while sitting with the dead. A farm girl tastes her future at the 1904 World's Fair. A "purr-fect" mastermind bests bullies. Ghosts tell us their secrets. People are frequently (and shockingly) not who you believe them to be.

Richard Peck is well known for his novels, including "A Long Way from Chicago" and "A Year Down Yonder" (which won the 1999 Newbery Honor and 2001 Newbery Medal, respectively). Now he treats us to a collection of all of his short stories, divided into categories:

The First: the first short story Peck wrote

The Past: historical fiction

The Supernatural: spirits among us

The Present: stories about today

Some of Peck's tales are gut-bustingly funny; others are poignant or dark. The characters ring true while the plots twist startlingly. Please don't ask me to pick a favorite from these thirteen engrossing, varied gems! No, really. Oh, OKAY. "The Kiss in the Carry-on Bag" is the standout piece for me because of the truly delightful startle it gave me. But truly, I loved all the stories --- there's not one dud in the bunch.

The tales are linked with fascinating notes of how they came to be written: Peck wrote his first short story because a magazine editor bribed him with three hundred dollars! He had thirty-six hours to write a thousand-word piece with a shocking ending. That story, "Priscilla and the Wimps," has been published in many places and opened the door for his further short fiction (speaking personally, I'd like to send that editor a thank-you note).

Within the introduction and two pieces at the end of the book, the author gives his readers a unique gift. He invites us to write a story of our own --- and gives us the information to do so.
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By J.M. Barrie on August 26, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Richard Peck is a genius, and in my opinion one of our best living writers for young people. If you enjoy Peck's chilling ghost stories and his famous humor expressed through characters like Grandma Dowdel, this is a great volume to own. There are several stories in this book that would appeal to middle and high school students. I bought it hoping to find a few more Peck gems to add to my middle school curriculum, and I was not disappointed.
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By Echo Lewis on March 31, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Past Perfect, Present Tense" is a great learning tool for anyone interested in writing. It's both informative and entertaining--great stories.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Portianay VINE VOICE on July 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I am pretty much at the place where I just do not think this man is capable of writing a dud for young adults. This one is fascinating, not only because each story stands on its own as a small gem, but because of the invaluable insights he gives to the young person who wants to write. His accounts of how his stories and novels came to be, of how hard work and persistence paid off, just ring so true, and he has a voice that somehow makes a young adult want to listen--as attested by my own three children.

He just keeps getting better all the time.
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