Ruurs, Margriet 1952-

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RUURS, Margriet 1952-

PERSONAL: Born December 2, 1952, in the Netherlands; daughter of H. Bodbyl and W. Bodbyl-Schut; married Kees Ruurs (a parks and recreation manager), 1972; children: Alexander, Arnout. Education: Simon Fraser University, graduate study. Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, travel, hiking, camping, family activities.

ADDRESSES: Home—4282 Poplar Dr., Armstrong, British Columbia V0E 1B6, Canada; fax: 780-790-0011. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Teacher of creative writing enrichment and presenter of writing workshops for children in various schools and by e-mail; workshop presenter at Okanagan University College in British Columbia, Canada. Speaker at children's literature and technology conferences.

AWARDS, HONORS: Honor title selection in "Tellable" stories for ages 4-7 category, Storytelling World Awards, International Reading Association, 1997, and "Our Choice Catalogue" selection, Canadian Children's Book Centre, both for Emma's Eggs; "Our Choice Catalogue" selections for A Mountain Alphabet and Emma's Eggs; White Raven selection for A Pacific Alphabet.

WRITINGS:

Apenkinderen, Leopold (Netherlands), 1982.

(Translator into Dutch) Judith Viorst, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Leopold (Netherlands), 1985.

Fireweed (picture book), illustrated by Roberta Mebs, Burns & Morton (Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada), 1986.

Big Little Dog, illustrated by Marc Houde, Penumbra (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada), 1992.

The R.C.M.P (nonfiction), KGR Learning Aides (Netherlands), 1992.

On the Write Track! A Guide to Writing, Illustrating, and Publishing Stories (adult), Pacific Educational Press (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1993.

A Mountain Alphabet (picture book), illustrated by Andrew Kiss, Tundra Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Emma's Eggs (picture book), illustrated by Barbara Spurll, Stoddart Kids (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1996.

Emma and the Coyote (picture book), illustrated by Barbara Spurll, Stoddart Kids (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1999.

The Power of Poems: Teaching the Joy of Writing Poetry, Maupin House (Gainesville, FL), 2001.

Virtual Maniac: Silly and Serious Poems for Kids, illustrated by Eve Tanselle, Maupin House (Gainesville, FL), 2001.

When We Go Camping, illustrated by Andrew Kiss, Tundra Books (New York, NY), 2001.

A Pacific Alphabet, illustrated by Dianna Bonder, Whitecap Books (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2001.

Logan's Lake, Hodgepog Books (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 2001.

Emma's Cold Day, illustrated by Barbara Spurll, Stoddart Kids (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.

Wild Babies, illustrated by Andrew Kiss, Tundra Books (New York, NY), 2003.

My Librarian Is a Camel, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2004.

Also author of Spectacular Spiders, Integrated Activities for Primary Classrooms, Pacific Edge Publishing. Contributor of articles and poetry to numerous magazines. Editor of an online magazine for children's writing.

ADAPTATIONS: Big Little Dog was published in Braille by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind in 1994.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Animal Alpha Bed, a rhyming picture book, for Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA).

SIDELIGHTS: Born in the Netherlands, Margriet Ruurs has lived in many places, including California, Oregon, Northern Alberta, and the Yukon; currently, she resides in British Columbia. A teacher of creative writing, she is best known as the creator of picture books that characteristically combine a lighthearted approach with a reverence for nature; she is also the author of fiction for middle graders and nonfiction for children and adults.

Ruurs is perhaps most widely recognized as the creator of A Mountain Alphabet, an alphabet book in alliterative text that is set in the Canadian Rockies and is structured as a hike through the mountain ranges. The book is illustrated by Andrew Kiss, a well-known oil painter of wildlife, who provides twenty-six pictures that each emphasize a letter of the alphabet. Both the text and the art represent the variety of plant and animal life to be found in the Rockies; Ruurs includes both an introduction and an appended alphabet to provide further information about the scenes depicted. Critics note that not all the items beginning with a particular letter were mentioned in the text, though all are listed in the back of the book; this, along with the hidden letter itself, is considered an invitation to young readers to closely examine each illustration. The "book will help young readers to explore this ecosystem," maintained Barbara Chatton in School Library Journal. Chatton added, "While this title provides a valuable resource, it will need adult intervention to help youngsters 'read' the pictures so that they can get the most out of it." Quill & Quire reviewer Janet McNaughton commented, "Some picture books find their real audience with adults who have a special affinity with the subject matter. A Mountain Alphabet may well be one of those."

In Emma's Eggs, Ruurs tells a humorous story while displaying her knowledge and love of animal life. In this picture book, the author features a mixed-up hen who notices what the humans on her farm are doing with her eggs (for example, scrambling them for eating, or decorating and hiding them for an Easter egg hunt), and tries to accommodate them by herself scrambling her eggs or hiding them. Eventually, however, Emma realizes exactly what her eggs are for. "The story is well written," noted Bridget Donald in Quill & Quire. "The narrative descriptions and dialogue convey the energy of Emma's human-like ambitions while preserving a strong sense of her chicken nature." There have been several sequels to Emma's Eggs.

In addition to her picture books, Ruurs is the author of Big Little Dog, the story of a boy and his sled dog that is, according to Quill & Quire reviewer Fred Boer, "told simply and effectively, with both drama and suspense." Ruurs is also the author of an informational book on the Royal Canadian Mountain Police and an instructional book on how to get published; she is a poet as well, and has translated a popular children's book by Judith Viorst into Dutch.

Ruurs once commented to CA: "Nothing is more fun than playing with words! I started writing stories and poems when I was in grade one. I wrote lots of stories and, thank goodness, my mom kept the scribblers with the poems I wrote when I was little.

"Reading, too, was a favorite pastime. I still read several books a week. I have books in my living room, books in my family room, books in my bedroom, and even books in my bathroom!

"Writing A Mountain Alphabet seems easy when you flip through the book now, but it took me almost two years to get the words just right, to say exactly what I wanted to say about life in the mountains. And I hope you have as much fun as I did trying to find all the hidden objects and letters in the book's illustrations!

"I like picture books. I read lots of them and do story-time in the public library every week. I was, therefore, thrilled when Emma's Eggs was awarded the 1997 honor title by the Storytelling World Awards.

"I love writing poetry. English is my second language and so it was hard for me to write poetry for a while but now I write poetry in both Dutch and English and do some translating as well.

"I teach lots of creative writing workshops in elementary schools and enjoy encouraging kids to write and read as much as they can. When I was little I thought that all authors were either very old or dead. . . . Now I like telling kids that they, too, can be authors. Being an author means you get to create lots of stories and use your imagination all the time. You have to keep your eyes and ears open for all the stories around. But it also means doing lots of rewriting and editing. That can be hard work but also does improve the final story, so it's worth it!

"I love being home and creating stories—first in my head and eventually on the computer. But I also enjoy traveling to schools and libraries to meet the kids who read my books. A book sitting on the shelf is just cardboard and paper, but a book in the hands of a reader comes to life! I write the stories but you make the book a book by reading it!"

Recently Ruurs added: "Writing for children is the genre that I like best. I read almost only books for children: picture books, novels, and poetry. Working in schools across North America allows me to test unpublished stories as well as to share my published books with children. Speaking at literacy conferences, I travel to many different places. Meeting teachers and librarians gives me materials for new books to write. I like showing kids the process of getting an idea, weaving it into a story or poem, and the rewriting process. I also show them how illustrators work and how books are designed and printed. Children, animals, and my love of the outdoors continue to inspire me with new ideas."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, December 15, 2001, Ilene Cooper, review of When We Go Camping, p. 741.

Books for Young People, June, 1987, p. 6.

Books in Canada, May, 1993, p. 31.

Canadian Children's Literature, fall, 2002, Ulrich Teucher, review of Emma's Eggs, p. 77.

Canadian Materials, October, 1993, p. 184; January, 1994, p. 11.

Instructor, January-February, 2002, review of The Power of Poems: Teaching the Joy of Writing Poetry, p. 13.

Publishers Weekly, July 17, 2000, review of When We Go Camping, p. 166; November 12, 2001, review of A Pacific Alphabet, p. 62.

Quill & Quire, May, 1993, Fred Boer, review of Big Little Dog, p. 34; August, 1996, Bridget Donald, review of Emma's Eggs, p. 42; December, 1996, Janet McNaughton, review of A Mountain Alphabet, pp. 36-37; May, 2001, review of When We Go Camping, p. 33.

Resource Links, February, 2002, Heather Hamilton, review of Emma's Cold Day, p. 8; April, 2002, Michael Jung, review of A Pacific Alphabet, p. 9.

School Library Journal, February, 1997, Barbara Chatton, review of A Mountain Alphabet, pp. 97-98; July, 2001, Susan Marie Pitard, review of When We Go Camping, p. 88; February, 2002, Alison Kastner, review of A Pacific Alphabet, p. 112; February, 2003, Patricia Manning, review of Wild Babies, p. 137.

ONLINE

Margriet Ruurs, Children's Author,http://www.margrietruurs.com/ (April 5, 2004).