Weeds in Bloom: Autobiography of an Ordinary Man

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Overview

With over 60 books published, including the breathtaking A Day No Pigs Would Die, Robert Newton Peck has had an illustrious writing career. Now, in an autobiography as unique as he is, Peck tells his story by writing about the people who have meant the most to him throughout his life. From his roots as a poor Vermont farmer's son to his years as a soldier in World War II, from his term slogging away in a paper mill to his semi-retirement in Florida, Peck shows us people most never see—the desperately poor, the ...
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Weeds in Bloom: Autobiography of an Ordinary Man

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Overview

With over 60 books published, including the breathtaking A Day No Pigs Would Die, Robert Newton Peck has had an illustrious writing career. Now, in an autobiography as unique as he is, Peck tells his story by writing about the people who have meant the most to him throughout his life. From his roots as a poor Vermont farmer's son to his years as a soldier in World War II, from his term slogging away in a paper mill to his semi-retirement in Florida, Peck shows us people most never see—the desperately poor, the hopelessly uneducated. People Rob considers "weeds in bloom."

The world of seven-year-old Robert, a farm boy in Vermont during the Depression, is populated by plain country people who "sparkle" despite their hardships.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A respect for humanity shines through Peck's (A Day No Pigs Would Die) unique autobiography, related in a colloquial, conversational style. Rather than presenting a chronicle of his life in a conventional fashion, the author instead pens a series of character sketches-the people who have helped to shape him ("For you, I harvest wild herbs of humanity.... Weeds in bloom," he writes in the prologue). Peck fondly recalls the stoic, hard-working folks who molded his values when he was growing up poor in rural Vermont-family members (including his 110-year-old ["some claimed older"] Aunt Ida, who reputedly killed a "drunken half-crazed Saint Francis Indian.... At the time, she was only nine. Others said eight") and other members of his boyhood community. There's Early Pardee the horse shoer, who begins his workday before dawn, and teacher Miss Kelly, who believes in "Scholarship, Manners, and Soap." Peck also pays tribute to mentors who encouraged him to spread his wings, and crystallizes the essence of various misfits he meets later in life, in Florida. His chance encounters with an aging quilter, a sugar-cane cutter and a girl who lives in the swamp reveal the author's keen power of observation as well as his sensitivity. Downplaying his own accomplishments and personal details (experiences with marriage, parenthood and book writing get only brief mentions), Peck invites readers to look through his eyes and share his admiration for the extraordinary human beings who have crossed his path. Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT - Ivy Miller
Contrary to the title, Robert Newton Peck is no ordinary man. His autobiography provides fascinating glimpses into the life of an excellent author of YA books (A Day No Pigs Would Die, for example). Weeds in Bloom gives insight into why Peck's fiction rings so true; as he often states, "research is outdoor work." The book is divided into three distinct sections: "Vermont Boyhood," "Early Manhood," and "Florida Years." Peck uses individual stories to describe his humble childhood in New England, with tender detail and clear respect for the adults who influenced him. As Peck matures the book centers more around him as a main figure. With some graphic elements, Peck describes being a soldier during WW II, a sawmill worker in Vermont, and a football player/college student in Florida. Peck becomes most down-to-earth in the final section of the book, where the reader gets a real sense of his writing process and firsthand knowledge of his research technique. The people Peck describes in this section can easily be characters in future or past novels. Peck ends his autobiography with some sage words of advice; for example: "How do you determine if a dog is male or female? Easy. When it drinks from the toilet and leaves the seat up, it's a male." Some b/w photographs are interspersed throughout, adding visual evidence to the wonderful descriptions in the stories. The book is a quick read and reluctant YA readers will enjoy this thin autobiography. Highly recommended as a part of any YA biography collection.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-A veteran author creates his autobiography in an atypical fashion, by spotlighting people (and a few dogs) who have had an impact on his life. Thus he provides readers with a series of essays or character sketches in which he plays a supporting role. Some of the players in the first of three sections, "Vermont Boyhood," will ring bells with fans of Peck's "Soup" stories (Random). In "Early Manhood," he looks into his time in the army and his work experiences, including stints in a paper mill and in advertising. "Florida Years" features interesting personalities-an old man living in a shack in the woods with his dog, a waitress at a small diner, Jamaicans in the sugar-cane fields of Florida. These are folks to whom life has often been less than generous, but Peck has found in them wisdom, tenacity, and tenderness. The final chapter, "Just As I Am," is a compilation of Peck's words to live by. There is humor, as one might expect, and a good deal of near-heartbreaking pain, along with a dollop of hokum here and there. Because Peck has not written of his life as a writer, these essays are as likely to appeal to readers who have never heard of him. Perhaps they are more likely to appeal to adults than to teen readers who may not yet have lived long enough to see the strength required to live an "ordinary life."-Coop Renner, Hillside Elementary, El Paso, TX Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375928017
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 5/24/2005
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: Library Binding Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.72 (w) x 8.52 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Newton Peck grew up on a farm in rural Vermont. He has written over 60 books, including the Soup series, for which he won the Mark Twain Award. He lives in Longwood, Florida.
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