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The Best Man: Richard Peck’s 2017 BGHB Fiction & Poetry Honor Speech

I waited eighty years to write The Best Man and began it on that June day in 2014 when same-sex marriage legislation was implemented in my home state of Illinois. But have the youngest readers heard? There will be no word of it on the standardized test or in the textbook during my lifetime. I thought it was time for a story to open the door.

When I began to hear the story in my head, a boy was telling it, a boy looking ahead to the adult world of role models: a grandfather who can teach a grandson what it means to be a gentleman; a dad doing his best to be a good son to his father and a good father to his son; an uncle who can sweep the world clean of the scariest bully in first grade; a teacher who thinks fifth graders are strange and fascinating characters.

Archer Magill works hard to get his role models in a row. Then one of them wants to marry another one of them.

It’s a story about love and loss and laughter and family.

A novel for grade-school and middle-school readers — about how American people live today, with their young ones looking up to them.

From the January/February 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. For more on the 2017 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards, click on the tag BGHB17. Watch Roger’s 2017 Talks with Roger video conversation with Richard Peck.

Richard Peck About Richard Peck

Richard Peck’s latest book is Secrets at Sea (Dial), illustrated by Kelly Murphy.

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