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Allan W. Eckert facts for kids

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Allan Wesley Eckert (January 30, 1931 – July 7, 2011) was an American novelist and playwright who specialized in historical novels for adults and children, and was also a naturalist. His novel Incident at Hawk's Hill (1971) was initially marketed to adults and selected by Reader's Digest Condensed Books. A runner-up for the Newbery Medal, it was afterward marketed as a children's novel and adapted by Disney for a television movie known as The Boy Who Talked to Badgers (1975).

Eckert wrote several books of natural history. In addition, he wrote more than 225 episodes of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, for which he received an Emmy Award.

His numerous historical novels were popular, including several that were part of his series "The Winning of America". In 1996, one of them was adapted for the stage as 1913: The Great Dayton Flood and premiered at Wright State University, also being produced at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. He wrote the drama Tecumseh for an outdoor production at Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheatre near Chillicothe, OH that has been a destination for tourists every summer since 1973.


Eckert was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1931, and raised in the Chicago, Illinois area. He attended college near Bellefontaine, Ohio, and remained a longtime resident there.

As a young man, he hitchhiked around the United States, living off the land and learning about wildlife. He began writing about nature and American history at the age of thirteen. He eventually wrote numerous books for children and adults. His children's novel, Incident at Hawk's Hill, was a runner-up for the Newbery Medal in 1972. One of his novels tells how the great auk became extinct.

Eckert published numerous novels of the Ohio Country frontier in what was called his "The Winning of America" series, including accounts of frontiersmen and notable Native Americans, such as Tecumseh. He conducted extensive research for his works, but inserted fictional dialogue for his historical figures.

Eckert also wrote several unproduced screenplays. He wrote more than 225 episodes of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, for which he received an Emmy Award.

In a 1999 poll conducted by the Ohioana Library Association, Eckert shared with Toni Morrison the accolade of "Favorite Ohio Writer of All Time."

Eckert died in his sleep on July 7, 2011, in Corona, California, at the age of 80.

Dramatizations and adaptations

Eckert wrote the outdoor drama Tecumseh! which, in 1997, celebrated its 25th year of production at the multi-million-dollar Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheater near Chillicothe, Ohio. His 1968 children's novel Blue Jacket was adapted as a drama of the same name designed for outdoor performances. It opened in 1982 at a facility outside Xenia, Ohio. The production eventually closed due to financial difficulties, but it was estimated to have generated more than nine million dollars yearly into the local economy of southwest Ohio.

Eckert was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his book A Time of Terror: The Great Dayton Flood (1965). Decades later, in 1996 it was adapted for the stage as 1913: The Great Dayton Flood by W. Stuart McDowell and Timothy Nevits. It was performed at Wright State University, featuring recorded narration by actors Martin Sheen, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. The production won a number of awards from the American College Theatre Festival XXIX at the Riffe Center, Columbus, Ohio. It opened the 1997 festival in the Kennedy Center, returning to Dayton that fall, where it played in the Victoria Theatre.

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