zi

 

E-Mail Peter

Biography
 

 

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New 12-minute Video on Icebreaker

 

High Res Photos of Author for Printing

The bear is NOT dead!! Just immobilized while scientists take measurements!!

Interview with Deborah Kalb

on Jack London and the Klondike Gold Rush

 

     Peter's adventure books fit perfectly with the Common Core State Standards.  They come directly from his travel journals and weave together history, geography, and culture.

      As a child, Peter loved collecting rocks and wandering the countryside of Connecticut. When his parents split up, he, his identical twin brother Jim, and their younger sister Ann moved to Ontario, Canada. In the fourth grade, deep into the Hardy Boys, Peter wanted to be a bush pilot in Canada's Northwest Territories. He also wanted to be an archaeologist, to travel the world and delve into ancient cultures.

      When he graduated from college, Peter studied early human bones with Margaret Leakey in Kenya and observed Colobus monkeys in the Usambara Mountains of Tanzania.  He was all set to become an anthropologist when suddenly, while surveying monkeys in the jungles of Ecuador, Peter heard the mysterious story of an Incan treasure....

      In 1533, seven hundred and fifty tons of Incan gold were buried in a strange and haunting cloud forest in the Andes Mountains.  That gold, in fact, is still hidden in a dangerous chain of misty mountains only seventy miles from Quito, the capital of Ecuador.

      It was this fantastic story (audio) that made Peter drop his plans to earn a Ph.D. in anthropology.  And for the next five years, he remained in Ecuador to research the story of the Inca gold.  Finally he hired three guides (Segundo, Juan and Washington) from the small village of El Triunfo in the cloud forest.  He climbed into the high jungle looking for the gold but came back not with riches but with a desire to write an article for Highlights Magazine ("Inca Treasure in the Cloud Forest") and a book (Sweat of the Sun, Tears of the Moon: A Chronicle of an Incan Treasure).

     This was the story that turned him into a writer, and he began to write adventure-travel books about many places, rivers, and ancient cultures, both for children and for adults.  His journeys have now taken him to remote parts of the world, including the jungles and mountains of Mexico, Bolivia, Brazil, Panama, Peru, and Africa.


      He realized a boyhood dream when he explored Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America, known also as "El Fin del Mundo," or the End of the World.  This remote island is located at the southern tip of Patagonia and was named "Land of Fire" by Ferdinand Magellan in 1520.  Only seven hundred miles from Antarctica, it is a wild and desolate place, filled with penguins, sea lions, and wild guanaco, a llama-like creature that the natives there depended on for food and clothing. 

      When he recently returned from the jungles of southern Mexico where he was working on a story about the ancient Maya, Peter admitted that although it is important to read books in preparation for a journey, just as crucial are his observations while traipsing through jungles or following rivers.

     "Hearing the roar of howlers and the whine of cicadas in the long, hot jungle afternoons in Chiapas, Mexico, is an important part of my research into the ancient Maya civilization," he says.  "The mystery has to come alive!" he says. "Readers should feel, hear and smell a place."

      For Peter, research is another word for exploration!

      It's Peter's love of mystery and of what he will discover that compels him toward his next adventure.  A book about an Arctic whale scientist who works with the Inupiaq Eskimos on the North Slope of Alaska (Whaling Season: A Year in the Life of an Arctic Whale Scientist) was followed by another book (The Manatee Scientists: Saving Vulnerable Species) about manatees in West Africa, the Amazon, Mexico and Florida.  He published a book on polar bears, Polar Bear Scientists, and h
is new book with Henry Holt is about Jack London in the Klondike Gold Rush.  For teachers, Peter, along with New Mexican 5th-grade teacher Dave Somoza, has co-written Writing to Explore: Discovering Adventure in the Research Paper (see video below). Peter spent last fall on Canada's biggest icebreaker in the Beaufort Sea and he is now working on a book for Henry Holt about Norwegian Polar Explorer Fridtjof Nansen.

Interview with Deborah Kalb

on Jack London and the Klondike Gold Rush


      Peter holds a BA in classics from New York University, an MA in English Literature from the University of Maine, and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University.  He has taught writing at Columbia College and the University of Vermont, and is now teaching Adventure Writing & Digital Storytelling at Middlebury College.

 

      He makes his living traveling, writing and photographing. He also visits schools to share his adventures with students and teachers

      He lives near Middlebury, Vermont.

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Teaching Adventure Writing & Digital Storytelling at Middlebury College

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Author Profile in Edutopia Magazine

"Has Camera, Will Travel"

(from Cobblestone Magazine)

 

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Trip to El Salvador November, 2014

My friend Margarita Moz has started a wonderful little library in the rough neighborhood of El Moral (the "backpack") in the coastal town of La Libertad, El Salvador.  The children come to Biblioteca Luz to read, draw, play games and to escape the poverty and difficulties of their lives.

 

 

Author Profile at Edutopia.org

"Has Camera, Will Travel"

(from Cobblestone Magazine)

 

High Resolution Photos of Author for Printing

 

Bio as Word file to download

Bio as PDF file to download

 

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Professional Development

Keynote & Breakout Sessions

 

 

 

For Author Visit & Book Signing

contact

Kerri K. McPhail
Children's Authors' Ally LLC
914-921-1776 (W)
914-582-0499 (C)
Kerri Kunkel Kerri@childrensauthorsally.com

pdf of school-visit flyer to print

and the bigger poster

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Highlights for Children article

Inca Treasure in the Cloud Forest

 

 

Peter and Segundo, years after the expedition into

the Treasure Mountains

 

 

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click for larger file

Collecting digital stories, -35 F, Barrow, Alaska

photo: Sveta Berezovskaya

 

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Whaling Season

ARCTIC THAW

Author Profile at Edutopia.org

High Resolution Photos of Author for Printing

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Thanks to Susan Polos amd Erin Meyer from Mt. Kisco Elementary and Wampus Elementary, in New York State, for this timeline

 

   school visits

 

I've known rivers:

Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers. 

Langston Hughes

 

Receiving a certificate and polar bear from Defenders of Wildlife in DC for the donation made in honor of Altamont Elementary School.

Thanks, Kids!!