St George - Author Ivy Ruckman was born in Hastings, Nebraska, the daughter of Joy Uberto and Lena Osgood Myers. She considered herself lucky to have grown up in a quiet prairie town where at a young age she began writing the action-packed stories that
ran nonstop in her head. Ivy graduated with a Bachelor's degree in English from Hastings College in 1953 and followed a family heritage of a long line of teachers by taking a job as a high school English teacher in Casper, Wyoming. She met Edgar Heylmun
in Casper and they were married in 1955 and moved to Salt Lake City. They had two children and were later divorced.
Ivy taught English at Skyline High School from 1962-65, and creative writing from 1970-72. She married Dr. Stuart Allan Ruckman in 1965. Together they spent many years having adventures while raising three children: camping and boating at Flaming Gorge,
skiing, swimming, and building a dream house. In the midst of her busy life, Ivy began writing full-time in 1974, contributing short stories and articles to children's magazines. When Allan died in a mountain climbing accident, Ivy was inspired to write
Ivy's writing career included fifteen young adult novels and many awards. During her career she made frequent school visits and spoke at writers' workshops around the country. She received the Outstanding Alumni Award, Hastings College; Mountain Plains
Library Association Literary Contribution Award for body of work; Nebraska Golden Sower Award; Sequoyah Children's Book Award; Iowa Children's Choice Award; and nomination for the prestigious Texas Bluebonnet Award. Ivy was a member of the Society of
Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Utah Children's Literature Association, Friends of the Salt Lake County Library System and the Willa Cather Memorial Foundation. Her best-known book, Night of the Twisters, was made into a movie.
Ivy traveled the world with her friends where she found herself writing stories in Mykonos, sleeping in tents in Kenya, yachting in Antiqua, shopping in Bangkok and Prague, sightseeing in London and walking on the beaches of Aitutaki. She made friends
wherever she went and loved having a good conversation over wine and cheese.
She retired to her house in Kayenta near Ivins, Utah where she loved to watch the sun coming up over Red Mountain, swim early in the morning in the Kayenta pool, and socialize with her friends at coffee hour. When she moved to Sterling Court Assisted
Living, she still loved to sit on her balcony and imagine new stories.
Ivy is survived by her three children, Kim (Fred), Bret (Judy), and Stuart (Libby); her grandchildren Hillary, Hannah, Allie, and Ellis; cousin-sister Nance Meyer; many nieces and nephews; and her dear friends across the country, including Hastings, Salt
Lake City, Kayenta and Sterling Court Assisted Living.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Unicef K.I.N.D. Project or The Nature Conservancy of Utah.
...Athough the tornado action in ''Night of the Twisters'' is compelling, Ruckman believes that alone doesn't explain the popularity of the book. The children in the story are alone during the scary storm, and ''kids can relate to that,'' she said.
Ruckman estimates she meets about 30,000 schoolchildren per year, and they love the story and the slides she shows of the Grand Island tornadoes, she said...
"Ivy Ruckman is the author of several award-winning novels for young
adults. Very popular with students, Ruckman's novels have been cited
for their well- paced plots, realistic dialogue, and plausible
solutions to the kinds of problems teenagers face. One of her most
popular works, Night of the Twisters, is unusual in her body of work
for being based on an actual event, in this case a night during which
a small town in Nebraska was hit by a series of tornadoes. Night of
the Twisters is not unique among Ruckman's books in its reliance on
action to propel the plot, however, inspiring some reviewers to
books for reluctant readers. Other works deal with problems that are
less dramatic, such as finding a boyfriend for a widowed mother, cross- generational relationships, or dealing with bullies at summer camp.
Whatever her theme, Ruckman has been lauded throughout her career for
her storytelling abilities, including swift pacing and strong
character development, qualities that make her novels especially
attractive to young adult readers.
"The youngest of seven children born to a Nebraska family during the
Great Depression, Ruckman maintains that her materially poor childhood
enriched her immeasurably by forcing her to develop her imagination to
the fullest. Throughout her childhood Ruckman was closest to her
brother William, with whom she shared innumerable adventures, as she
once told CA: 'On a typical afternoon an upended stool became a ship's
parapet, a rag mop displayed the colors. The longest stirring spoon in
the kitchen stood by for an oar. The Captain and his First Mate, thus
grandly appointed, rolled out to sea with solemn purpose--the capture
of pirates. Together William and I built igloos in the Arctic tundra,
stalked big game in steaming jungles while black panthers stalked us;
we performed daring feats on a slender bar and did acrobatics on the broad-backed workhorses who always looked astonished to find
themselves the dappled darlings of the circus ring. Christmas
opulence, our contemporaries will remember, consisted of one or two
gifts and a sack of nuts and candy from church. One year the two of us exchanged Woolworth `diamond' rings, then spent the entire holidays
slinking about the house as jewel thieves.'
...One of Ruckman's most popular works with both critics
and readers is Night of the Twisters, which concerns the actions of
two adolescent boys after a series of tornadoes. Dan and his best
friend Arthur, both twelve, are babysitting Dan's baby brother when a
tornado strikes the house and the surrounding town, bringing
suspenseful chaos and confusion as the boys attempt to contact family
members and friends and help in the rescue effort."
Who Needs Rainbows?, Messner (New York City), 1969.
Encounter, Doubleday (New York City), 1978.
Melba the Brain, illustrated by Ruth Van Sciver, Westminster, 1979.
What's an Average Kid Like Me Doing Way Up Here?, Delacorte (New York
City), 1983, revised edition, Dell (New York City), 1988.
In a Class By Herself, Harcourt (New York City), 1983.
The Hunger Scream, Walker (New York City), 1983.
Night of the Twisters, Harper (New York City), 1984.
This Is Your Captain Speaking, Walker, 1987.
No Way Out, Harper, 1988.
Who Invited the Undertaker?, Harper, 1989.
Melba the Mummy, Dell, 1991.
Pronounce It Dead, Bantam (New York City), 1994.
Spell It M-U-R-D-E-R, Bantam, 1994.
In Care of Cassie Tucker, Delacorte Press, 1998.
"Also editor of class-written television play for ABC- TV series Room
222; author of screenplay Hell and High Water, an adaptation of No Way
Out; contributor of short stories to periodicals Jack and Jill,
Cricket, and Ranger Rick."