Ivy Ruckman

Ivy Ruckman, American novelist and poet, was born in Hastings, Nebraska, on May 25, 1931. She was the youngest of seven children born to parents Joy Uberto, a teacher and “tree surgeon,” and Lena Chloe Myers, a homemaker. Ruckman grew up during the height of the Great Depression, and was especially close to her brother William, who shared in Ruckman’s love of books and imaginary adventures: Ruckman recollects scavenging books from the town’s trash and salvaging bookkeeping ledgers in search of blank pages on which to write or draw. These tendencies led to Ruckman becoming an avid reader and a keen-eyed writer whose readers praise her books as compelling and fast-paced. 

After working with the Salvation Army for seven years as a teenager and young adult, Ruckman completed her BA in English at Hastings College in 1953. She then taught high school English in Casper, Wyoming, from 1953 through 1957, and multiple subjects at Skyline High School in Salt Lake City: English from 1962 to 1965 (which she did alongside graduate study at the University of Utah in 1963), and then creative writing from 1970 to 1972. Ruckman became a full-time writer in 1974, working on books for both children and young adults. 

Ruckman’s best known work, the children’s novel The Night of the Twisters, is a fictionalized account of the 1980 tornado outbreak in Grand Island, Nebraska, where seven tornadoes touched down in and around the city over the course of two days, killing five people and injuring over two hundred more. The novel is told from the point of view of a young boy living on a Nebraska farm during the event, and readers from the area have praised Ruckman’s chilling rendition of both the storms and the fear they caused among survivors. Night of the Twisters was also adapted into a made-for-television film in 1996, and Ruckman garnered seven regional and national awards for the novel, including a citation for "outstanding science trade book for children" from the National Science Teachers Association in 1984, a Nebraska Golden Sower Award in 1986, and more recently, a Nebraska Top 150 Books honor in 2017. 

Beyond Night of the Twisters, Ruckman has also written several other novels for young adults. While most are not based on historical events in the way that Night of the Twisters is, the majority do depict teenaged or young adult characters dealing with realistic everyday challenges, and most are also action- and plot-driven stories that teachers and librarians have recommended for middle school students. Ruckman has also received several library awards for these works. 

During the earliest part of her writing career, Ruckman had to balance her writing with the demands of teaching and raising a family, which led her to begin snatching any free moment she could in which to write. Even when she had a dedicated office space, Ruckman has said, she would still write outdoors or in between errands. Ruckman has also described her writing process as laborious and “difficult,” producing just a few pages on a good writing day. 

Ruckman has been married twice and has three adult children. She is still a member of the Hastings College Association, the Willa Cather Memorial Foundation, and the Nature Conservancy, and she currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah. 


  • Rob&Sara.com, Delacorte Books, 2004, (co-written with P. J. Petersen)
  • In Care of Cassie Tucker, Delacorte Books, 1998
  • Spell It M-U-R-D-E-R, Demco Media, 1994
  • Pronounce It Dead, Yearling, 1994
  • Melba the Mummy, Yearling, 1991
  • No Way Out, HarperCollins, 1988
  • This Is Your Captain Speaking, Walker & Co., 1987
  • The Night of the Twisters, HarperCollins, 1984
  • In a Class By Herself,Harcourt, 1983
  • The Hunger Scream, Walker & Co., 1983
  • What's an Average Kid Like Me Doing Way Up Here?, Delacorte Books, 1983
  • Who Invited the Undertaker?, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 1982
  • Melba the Brain, Westminster John Knox Press, 1979
  • Encounter, Doubleday, 1978
  • Who Needs Rainbows?,Julian Messner Inc., 1969


Ivy Ruckman on Nebraska Authors 


Additional Info

  • Region: Wasatch Front
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Tags: YA, Women, Children's Literature