Merle Peek was born in Denver, Colorado. He attended the University of Colorado and graduated from the California College of Arts and Crafts. After graduation he moved to New York City where he lived for the next ten years working as a layout artist for the New York Times. He then moved to a mountainside near Woodstock in the Catskills where he spent the next ten years living in a 175 year old farm house surrounded by six hundred acres of beautiful northeastern woods. It was here he explains, “that I got my first pet, or my first pet got me…a huge tailless cat wondered into the house one day and declared himself at home. I named him Bob Catskill. He’s since been followed by two more cats, Felix and Lily, and by my first dog, Daisy.”
At first Peek began illustrating children’s books written by other authors, a few of which are Donald Nelson’s The Spotted Cow, Stephen Manes’ Hooples on the Highway and Bears by Michael O’Donaghue. While finding this challenging and enjoyable he soon expanded his creative talents to include the writing of children’s books. He explains “as much as I enjoy illustrating the words of others, the ultimate pleasure does come from conceiving the entire book–words and pictures. I like seeing my name alone on the cover!” Some of his self illustrated books are Cricket’s Tanagrams, Roll Over! A Counting Song, and Mary Wore Her Red Dress and Henry Wore His Green Sneakers. In 1982 Roll Over! A Counting Song was selected as a “Children’s Choice” by the International Reading Association.