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Boelts, Maribeth 1964–

Boelts, Maribeth 1964–

PERSONAL: Born January 19, 1964, in Waterloo, IA; daughter of Gerald Clifford (a machinist) and Dorothy Angela (a registered nurse; maiden name, Shimek) Condon; married Darwin Dale Boelts (a firefighter), August 1, 1983; children: three. Education: University of Northern Iowa, B.A., 1987; Hawkeye Institute of Technology, emergency medical technician certification, 1988. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Christian Reformed. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, exercise, spending time with husband and children.

ADDRESSES: Home—3815 Clearview Dr., Cedar Falls, IA 50613. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Author. St. John/St. Nicholas School, Evansdale, IA, preschool teacher, 1988–91, has also worked as a substitute teacher; Waterloo Courier, Waterloo, IA, freelance feature writer, 1992–94.

MEMBER: Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

WRITINGS:

FICTION

With My Mom, with My Dad (also see below), Pacific Press (Boise, ID), 1992.

Tornado, Paulist Press (Mahwah, NJ), 1993.

Grace and Joe, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1994.

Lullaby Babes, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1994.

Summer's End, illustrated by Ellen Kandoian, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1995.

Big Daddy, Frog Wrestler, illustrated by Benrei Huang, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 2000.

Lullaby Lullabook, illustrated by Bruce Whatley, HarperFestival (New York, NY), 2002.

The Sloths Get a Pet, illustrated by Jan Gerardi, Random House (New York, NY), 2003.

Looking for Sleepy, illustrated by Bernadette Pons, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 2004.

When It's the Last Day of School, illustrated by Hanako Wakiyama, Putnam (New York, NY), 2004.

The Firefighters' Thanksgiving, illustrated by Terry Widener, Putnam (New York, NY), 2004.

"LITTLE BUNNY" SERIES

Dry Days, Wet Nights, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1994.

Little Bunny's Preschool Countdown, illustrated by Kathy Parkinson, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1996.

Little Bunny's Cool Tool Set, illustrated by Kathy Parkinson, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1997.

Little Bunny's Pacifier Plan, illustrated by Kathy Parkinson, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1999.

You're a Brother, Little Bunny!, illustrated by Kathy Parkinson, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 2001.

NONFICTION

(With husband, Darwin Boelts) Kids to the Rescue!: First Aid Techniques for Kids, Parenting Press (Seattle, WA), 1992, revised edition, illustrated by Marina Megale, Parenting Press (Seattle, WA), 2003.

A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe on the Streets, PowerKids Press (New York, NY), 1997.

A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in the Water, PowerKids Press (New York, NY), 1997.

A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe on Bikes, PowerKids Press (New York, NY), 1997.

A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe at School, PowerKids Press (New York, NY), 1997.

A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe at Playgrounds, PowerKids Press (New York, NY), 1997.

A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe around Fire, PowerKids Press (New York, NY), 1997.

"HELPING KIDS HEAL" SERIES

Sometimes I'm Afraid: A Book about Fear, illustrated by Cheri Bladholm, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2004.

Sarah's Grandma Goes to Heaven: A Book about Grief, illustrated by Cheri Bladholm, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2004.

With My Mom, with My Dad, illustrated by Cheri Bladholm, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2004.

Why Did You Bring Home a New Baby?, illustrated by Cheri Bladholm, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: Maribeth Boelts is the author of a number of works for children, including picture books such as When It's the Last Day of School and Big Daddy, Frog Wrestler, and nonfiction titles such as Kids to the Rescue!: First Aid Techniques for Kids, cowritten with her husband, Darwin Boelts, a firefighter. The mother of three children, Boelts often draws on her experiences as a parent for inspiration.

A former preschool teacher, Boelts once explained her decision to write children's books: "I grew up in a family of readers, spending long hours at the Waterloo Public Library, filling my backpack every Saturday with Beverly Cleary, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Boy's Life magazine (much more exciting, I thought, than anything out for girls at the time.) The writing joined the reading when I was in first grade, and from that [first] poem on, I was hooked on words. I continued to write through high school and into college, but as a twenty-year-old married college student with a newborn baby, pursuing an actual writing career seemed like a frivolous dream. I needed a job, and because I liked kids and had always liked school, teaching seemed a reasonable choice. After three years of teaching, however, I realized that the writing, like an impatient child, wouldn't wait. I quit my job, taking with me a file folder of ideas from the children I taught and the two young children I had at home. I wrote a few really bad children's stories, received a lot of rejections, did some more research, spent hours reading children's books, and then wrote some more. Eventually, I got some good news from a publisher, and that was all I needed for fuel."

Shortly after publishing her debut work, Boelts was hired to write Kids to the Rescue!, a first aid book for children. "It was a great fit for me," Boelts stated on the Parenting Press Web site. "I took the Emergency Medical Technician certification course at my local community college and worked on Kids to the Rescue! with my husband, who was completing paramedic training for his new job with the fire department." Boelts has since published several other easy-to-read advice books for children, including A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in the Water and A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe on Bikes.

Boelts's "Little Bunny" series of picture books for toddlers explores familiar family situations. In Little Bunny's Pacifier Plan, the title character attempts to wean himself from his source of comfort. "The situation is never defined as a problem, just a normal part of growing up," remarked Carolyn Phelan in Booklist. The arrival of a new sibling is the subject of You're a Brother, Little Bunny! Little Bunny believes he is well prepared for baby Kale, but the newborn's constant crying and smelly diapers prove to be quite a challenge. "Boelts has a good ear for the feelings of a preschooler," Phelan observed.

In Big Daddy, Frog Wrestler, a young frog named Curtis discovers his father had once been a champion grappler. Though Curtis is elated when his father is offered a world tour, Big Daddy quickly realizes that he prefers time with his family to life on the road. "The father-son relationship glows with affection," noted Gay Lynn Van Vleck in the School Library Journal. An energetic class clown decides to rein in his antics in When It's the Last Day of School, "a story that radiates the lighter side—or anyway more rascally side—of schooling," according to a critic in Kirkus Reviews. James is on his best behavior, stifling burps, thanking a grumpy lunch lady, and earning a gold star. As the last bell rings, "James literally explodes off the final page, ready for a long, hot summer of frolicking with his friends," wrote School Library Journal contributor Lisa Gangemi Kropp.

Boelts again used her knowledge of rescue workers in the rhyming picture book The Firefighters' Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Day, fireman Lou volunteers to cook a big meal for his coworkers, but his plans are interrupted by several calls to duty. When Lou has to be hospitalized after fighting a blaze, the grateful people he helped that day pitch in to deliver a wonderful feast to the station. A contributor in Kirkus Reviews called the work "a satisfying holiday story with an unusual perspective."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 1, 1995, Hazel Rochman, review of Summer's End, p. 1422; September 15, 1996, Carolyn Phelan, review of Little Bunny's Preschool Countdown, p. 245; September 15, 1997, April Judge, review of Little Bunny's Cool Tool Set, p. 239; March 1, 1999, Carolyn Phelan, review of Little Bunny's Pacifier Plan, p. 1218; March 1, 2000, Gillian Engberg, review of Big Daddy, Frog Wrestler, p. 1249; December 1, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of You're a Brother, Little Bunny!, p. 647; April 15, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of When It's the Last Day of School, p. 1445; May 15, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Looking for Sleepy, p. 1624; August, 2004, Gillian Engberg, review of The Firefighters' Thanksgiving, p. 1940.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2001, review of You're a Brother, Little Bunny!, p. 1354; January 15, 2004, review of When It's the Last Day of School, p. 80; July 1, 2004, review of The Firefighters' Thanksgiving, p. 625.

Publishers Weekly, September 27, 2004, review of The Firefighters' Thanksgiving, p. 59.

School Library Journal, March, 2000, Gay Lynn Van Vleck, review of Big Daddy, Frog Wrestler, p. 189; January, 2002, Doris Gebel, review of You're a Brother, Little Bunny!, p. 95; April, 2004, G. Alyssa Parkinson, review of Looking for Sleepy, and Lisa Gangemi Kropp, review of When It's the Last Day of School, pp. 102-103; January, 2005, James K. Irwin, review of The Firefighters' Thanksgiving, p. 86.

ONLINE

Maribeth Boelts Home Page, http://maribethboelts.com (July 15, 2005).

Parenting Press Web site, http://www.parentingpress.com/ (fall, 2002), "Maribeth Boelts Launched Writing Career Three Months into Sabbatical from Teaching."

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