Ruepp, Krista 1947-

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RUEPP, Krista 1947-

PERSONAL: Born August 16, 1947, in Cologne, Germany; daughter of Josef (an advertising manager) and Christl (a designer; maiden name, Röhrig) Wild; married Michel Ruepp (a pharmacist), October 9, 1971; children: Kristian, Robin. Education: Attended Pädagogical University of Cologne. Religion: Roman Catholic.

ADDRESSES: Home—Remscheiderstrasse 210, 42855 Remscheid, Germany. Office—Alleestrasse 11, 42853 Remscheid, Germany. Agent—Jürgen Lassig, Braugasse 5, 85110 Kipfengerg-Arnsberg, Germany. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Teacher in Neuss, Germany; WDR-School TV, Cologne, Germany, 1973-83; AAR-Pharma GMDH, Remscheid, Germany, marketing and advertising director, 1984.

MEMBER: Geschichtsverein Remscheid, Astronomischer Verein Remscheid.

AWARDS, HONORS: Citysen-Medaille, City of Remscheid, 1985; Best Book of the Month, September, 2001, for The Sea Pony.

WRITINGS:

Midnight Rider, translated by J. Alison James, illustrated by Ulrike Heyne, North-South Books (Gossau, Switzerland), 1994.

Horses in the Fog (sequel to Midnight Rider), translated by J. Alison James, illustrated by Ulrike Heyne, North-South Books (Gossau, Switzerland), 1997.

The Sea Pony (sequel to Horses in the Fog), translated by J. Alison James, illustrated by Ulrike Heyne, North-South Books (Gossau, Switzerland), 2001.

Winter Pony, translated by J. Alison James, illustrated by Ulrike Heyne, North-South Books (Gossau, Switzerland), 2002.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Island Friends, about Charlie and Starbright, and Winter Pony II, about Anna and her pony Prince.

SIDELIGHTS: German author Krista Ruepp has enjoyed several careers. In addition to working for a children's television show for a decade, teaching German, history, and art, and working for her husband's scientific company, she has written several early-reader books about horses. Prior to connecting with North-South Books at the international book fair in Bologna, Italy, Ruepp had been unable to place her work with a publisher, as she recalled to Jörg Isringhaus in the Remscheider Generalanzeiger: "Before that I had nothing but rejections because I also illustrated my own work." Finally an editor at North-South Books recognized the value of her texts and chose Ulrike Heyne to illustrate them. Ruepp's debut novel, Midnight Rider, was translated into English and with a press run of 35,000 copies distributed in the United Kingdom, Australia, Tasmania, and the United States.

Although as a child Ruepp enjoyed writing stories, she put that interest aside for many years, until she had children herself. Eventually her sons Kristian and Robin, who inspired her to resume writing, became her first audience. When she said to Isringhaus, "I always get to hear quite a bit from my children. They are the best first editors." Her books are early readers, which bridge the gap between picture books and chapter books, and revolve around the activities of children and their horses. The first three books take place on the island of Outhorn in the North Sea and feature a young girl named Charlie. In The Midnight Rider Charlie, after her own horse dies, secretly visits the neighbors' horse Starbright, sereptitiously taking him on a fateful night-time ride. The book caught reviewers' attention. Writing in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Deborah Stevenson commented on the "poetic pleasure" of Charlie's midnight ride, though the critic thought the narrative somewhat predictable. Booklist's Carolyn Phelan also dubbed this a "good story," one that would appeal to equine enthusiasts. The success of The Midnight Rider engendered two sequels. Horses in the Fog is about Charlie and her friend Mona, who get lost on horseback in the sea-fog after riding on a sandbar. This work elicited comment from Susan Dove Lempke, who described the girls as "appealingly realistic" and their horses as "alluring" in her Booklist review. So too, The Sea Pony, about how newcomer Philip and his horse Goblin learn to fit in, garnered praise for its poetic and "unfussy" prose, to quote Irene Babsky of School Librarian.

Unlike her earlier works, Ruepp's fourth early reader, Winter Pony, takes place in Iceland and revolves around the relationship of Anna and the foal Prince, who must leave the family farm to graze in the summer pasture. Although her grandparents reassure Anna that Prince is going to be fine, the foal is challenged by a stallion and falls over a cliff. In the end, Prince proves his mettle and is accepted by the herd. When he returns to the farm, Anna is overjoyed. Several reviewers commented favorably on Winter Pony, including School Library Journal's Carol Scheme, who dubbed the work "pleasant but slight," and Booklist's Ellen Mandel, who predicted horse loves would "relish this spare" tale.

While horses are the ostensible topic, the themes of Ruepp's books are more complex. About her works the author told CA: "Sometimes children can help other children and even the adults to manage problems like prejudice in Midnight Rider, anxiety in Horses in the Fog, or homesickness in The Sea Pony. Here I show that a home place can be where you have friends. In my new book Winter Pony friendship is growing, although the friends—-Anna and Prince—have to go their own ways. Friendship is a feeling, which is always in your heart, and when you meet your friend after being separated a long time, it is like you have seen him the day before." Ruepp's goal is "to show that things mostly get better, that some problems which are growing can be managed with courage, and that it is good to live in nature and with nature," she continued. "The relationship to a horse is a good example of this. But it can be any other animal, or it can be a tree or a flower for which a human being is responsible."

Reflecting on her books, Ruepp told CA: "I want to mediate to children the joy of language and of painting, so that they are willing and able to write stories themselves and to paint. They send their works to me and I send them back with a letter which includes my wishes to encourage them. With my stories I want to show children how to manage problems and that it is better to be courageous than to be frightened. I try to encourage children with my stories and in the letters I write to them."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, December 1, 1995, Carolyn Phelan, review of Midnight Rider, pp. 636-637; February 1, 1998, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Horses in the Fog, p. 919; January 1, 2003, Ellen Mandel, review of Winter Pony, pp. 909-910.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October, 1995, Deborah Stevenson, review of Midnight Rider, p. 67.

Horn Book Guide, spring, 1998, Stephanie Loer, review of Horses in the Fog, p. 64; spring, 2002, Anita L. Burkam, review of The Sea Pony, p. 77.

Inselbot, July 22, 2002, "Kleine Wirbelwinde lauschten Geschichten vom 'Horelwinj.'"

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2002, review of Winter Pony pp. 1479.

Remscheider Generalanzeiger, August 12, 1995, Jörg Isringhaus, "Reiter in der Nacht."

School Librarian, spring, 1998, Gillian Lathey, review of Horses in the Fog, p. 37; spring, 2002, Irene Babsky, review of The Sea Pony, p. 35.

School Library Journal, December, 1995, Charlene Strickland, review of Midnight Rider, pp. 90-91; December, 2002, Carol Schene, review of Winter Pony pp. 107-108.