Hopkins, Ellen L. 1955–

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Hopkins, Ellen L. 1955–


Born March 26, 1955, in Long Beach, CA; daughter of Albert and Valeria Wagner; married Jerry Vancelette (divorced); married John Hopkins (a TV news assignment editor), October 19, 1991; children: Jaysen Vancelette, Cristal Thetford, Kelly Foutz. Education: Attended University of California—Santa Barbara. Politics: "Rabid Democrat." Religion: Lutheran. Hobbies and other interests: Hiking, biking, skiing, gardening, camping, fishing, and sports.


Home—Washoe Valley, NV. Office—Juniper Creek Publishing, P.O. Box 2205, Carson City, NV 89702. E-mail—[email protected].


Author, poet, freelance writer, 1992—. Valley Video, owner, 1980-85; Tahoe Truckee Reader, reporter, editor, 1992-96; Northern Nevada FamilyMagazine, editor, contributor, 2000-02; Juniper Creek Publishing, Inc., Carson City, NV, and Three Leaping Frogs, children's newspaper, publisher.


Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Reno MOMS, Holy Cross Lutheran Church Choir, Blue Tahoe Schutzhund Club, New Writers of the Purple Sage.


SCBWI Charlotte's Web pin for outstanding contributions to children's literature by a new author, 2001; Sierra Arts Foundation professional artist award, 2001 and 2004; American Library Association (ALA) Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers selection, New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age selection, and National Book Award nominee, 2006, all for Crank; Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Silver Pen Award, 2006; ALA Best Book for Young Adults nominee, 2007, for Burned.



Air Devils: Sky Racers, Sky Divers, and Stunt Pilots, Perfection Learning (Logan, IA), 2000.

Orcas, High Seas Supermen, Perfection Learning (Logan, IA), 2000.

Tarnished Legacy: The Story of the Comstock Lode, Perfection Learning (Logan, IA), 2001.

Into the Abyss: A Tour of Inner Space, Perfection Learning (Logan, IA), 2001.

The Thunderbirds: The U.S. Air Force Aerial Demonstration Squadron, Capstone Press (Mankato, MN), 2001.

The Golden Knights: The U.S. Army Parachute Team, Capstone Press (Mankato, MN), 2001.

Fly Fishing, Capstone Press (Mankato, MN), 2002.

Freshwater Fishing, Capstone Press (Mankato, MN), 2002.

Canopies in the Clouds, Perfection Learning (Logan, IA), 2002.

Countdown to Yesterday, Perfection Learning (Logan, IA), 2002.

United States Air Force, Heinemann Library (Crystal Lake, IL), 2003.

United States Air Force Fighting Vehicles, Heinemann Library (Crystal Lake, IL), 2003.

United States Special Operations Forces, Heinemann Library (Crystal Lake, IL), 2003.

All for Our Country: Check out Nevada!, Juniper Creek Publishing (Carson City, NV), 2003.

Light Shows: Comets, Meteors & Asteroids, Perfection Learning (Logan, IA), 2003.

Mysteries of Space, Perfection Learning (Logan, IA), 2003.

Are We Alone? The Case for Extraterrestrial Life, Perfection Learning (Logan, IA), 2003.

Inside a Star, Perfection Learning (Logan, IA), 2003.

Telescopes: Exploring the Beyond, Perfection Learning (Logan, IA), 2003.

Storming the Skies: The Story of Katherine and Marjorie Stinson, Pioneer Women Aviators, Avisson Press (Greensboro, NC), 2004.

Contributor of articles to local, regional, and national periodicals.


Crank, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2004.

Burned, McElderry Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Impulse, McElderry Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Glass, McElderry Books (New York, NY), 2007.


Ellen L. Hopkins is the author of high-interest books for juvenile readers on nonfiction topics as well as highly acclaimed young adult novels such as Crank, Burned, and Impulse. Hopkins raised a family, had her own business, and worked as a journalist and editor before turning her hand to book-length freelancing. Her debut title was the year 2000 Air Devils: Sky Racers, Sky Divers, and Stunt Pilots, which recounts the history of flight and covers such topics as dirigibles, early airplanes, military planes, and even airplane pylon races. According to Booklist contributor Catherine Andronik, the work is "easy to read, contemporary, and not condescending." In her next publication, Orcas, High Seas Supermen, Hopkins brings to readers the world of the Orca, or killer whale. Information about whale habitat, survival mechanisms, and communication is interspersed with color and black-and-white photographs, diagrams, and sidebars. Noting that whale lifestyles are "expertly explained," Booklist critic Roger Leslie concluded: "Always captivating, this book is sure to please" Orca fans.

Hopkins wrote a score of nonfiction works before she published her first young adult novel, taking inspiration from her own daughter's addiction to methamphetamine for the 2004 title Crank, written in free verse. The book details the devastation wrought by the drug called crank on the life of sixteen-year-old Kristina, who calls herself Bree when under the influence of it. This alter ego takes over when Kristina's boring home life smothers her, and drugs—to which she is introduced on a visit to her estranged father—throw her into the arms of boys both good and bad, resulting in an unwanted pregnancy. Though her family helps Kristina through the pregnancy and subsequent adoption, Hopkins allows for no easy happy endings, for, as with many addicts, Kristina returns to her crank habit after the birth. A Kirkus Reviews critic called Crank a "powerful and unsettling" novel, whose "hypnotic and jagged free verse wrenchingly chronicles" Kristina's plight. Similar praise came from School Library Journal contributor Sharon Korbeck, who found the novel "a stunning portrayal of a teen's loss of direction and realistically uncertain future." For Kliatt contributor Claire Rosser, Crank was a "devastating story." Rosser went on to note: "We aren't used to YA novels that end in such despair, but we have to face the truth that many addicts do not recover." Likewise, Booklist reviewer Gillian Engberg felt "readers won't soon forget smart, sardonic Kristina … [or] her chilling descent into addiction." A Publishers Weekly contributor further commended Hopkins for "creat[ing] a world nearly as consuming and disturbing as the titular drug."

Another sixteen-year-old girl is at the center of Hopkins's second young adult novel, Burned. With this work, Hopkins turns her attention from drugs to the influence of religion and domestic violence on a teen's life. Once again using free verse. Hopkins presents young Pattyn, whose first-person narrative details the repression and violence she experiences as a female member of the Mormon Church and the daughter of an alcoholic, abusive father. Sent to her aunt's desert ranch as a form of punishment for questioning her father and her religion, Pattyn matures with her newfound freedom and has a love affair with a young boy which ends in pregnancy. A critic for Kirkus Reviews called this novel "sharp and heartbreaking." Other reviewers also had high praise for the work. Writing in Booklist, Frances Bradburn found Burned a "troubling but beautifully written novel," while School Library Journal contributor Kathy Lehman observed that Hopkins "has masterfully used verse to re-create the yearnings and emotions of a teenage girl trapped in tragic circumstances."

Hopkins once commented: "As a freelance writer for a number of years, I became infatuated with several subjects and decided to carry them to the audience that most needs/deserves inspiration: children. Many of my books are hi/lo, a particular challenge, but stimulating reluctant readers is especially rewarding.

"With my current projects, I am pushing into new arenas, guaranteed to keep me busy for years to come. In addition to my husband, I am grateful for the support of mentors and peers within the writing community, especially the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. I am also fortunate to work with some of the best editors in the business. Finally, belief in myself and my God-given talent keeps me striving to succeed and excel."



Booklist, July, 2000, Catherine Andronik, review of Air Devils: Sky Racers, Sky Divers, and Stunt Pilots, p. 2016; November 1, 2000, Roger Leslie, review of Orcas, High Seas Supermen, p. 528; November 15, 2004, Gillian Engberg, review of Crank, p. 595; June 1, 2006, Frances Bradburn, review of Burned, p. 62.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 2006, Deborah Stevenson, review of Burned, p. 455.

Horn Book Guide, fall, 2001, review of The Thunderbirds: The U.S. Air Force Aerial Demonstration Squadron and The Golden Knights, p. 393; spring, 2002, review of Fly Fishing and Freshwater Fishing, p. 166.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2004, review of Crank, p. 96; April 1, 2006, review of Burned, p. 348.

Kliatt, May, 2000, review of Air Devils, p. 38; September, 2004, Claire Rosser, review of Crank, p. 21.

Publishers Weekly, November 1, 2004, review of Crank, p. 63.

School Library Journal, November, 2004, Sharon Korbeck, review of Crank, p. 145; May, 2005, Elizabeth Stumpf, review of Storming the Skies: The Story of Katherine and Marjorie Stinson, Pioneer Women Aviators, p. 152; July, 2006, Kathy Lehman, review of Burned, p. 105.

Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 2005, Valerie Ott, review of Crank, p. 14.


Ellen Hopkins Home Page,http://www.ellenhopkins.com (November 20, 2006).