About Elizabeth Rusch

ELIZABETH RUSCH is an award-winning children's book author and magazine writer. She writes both fiction and nonfiction in the areas of science, art, sports, waves, jokes, crayons, and mud — anything that catches her fancy. 

Her recent title, The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), a Junior Library Guild selection, has garnered starred reviews from The Horn Book, School Library Journal, Booklist and Kirkus, which called the book “enthralling,” “stellar,” and “edge-of-your-seat reading.” It has been named a best book of 2012 by Kirkus, School Library Journal, the New York Public Library, and the Nonfiction Detectives, and was awarded an Orbis Pictus Honor. NSTA named it an Outstanding Science Trade Book. The Mighty Mars Rovers sold out of its first printing in just a few months.

Rusch has three new books out in 2013. Eruption!: Volcanoes and the Science of Saving Lives (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), a Junior Library Guild selection, has been called “gripping” by the Wall Street Journal, “eye-opening” by School Library Journal (starred review), and “high-stakes science,” by Kirkus (starred review.)  

Volcano Rising (Charlesbridge), named a Junior Library Guild selection and a Children’s Book of the Month Club selection, has been described as “clever and appealing,” (Kirkus) and “vibrant and stunning,” (Shelf-employed). The Horn Book rightly points out that the book “directly confronts a common misconception” about volcanoes.

Kirkus has called the picturebook biography Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up The World (Candlewick) “a lively introduction to the life of an important figure in technology, someone whose ideas are still at the center of today’s world.”

In its starred review, Publishers’ Weekly described Rusch’s nonfiction picture book biography, For the Love of Music: The Remarkable Story of Maria Anna Mozart (Tricycle Press/Random House) as “a moving portrait of an unsung musician.” Kirkus, in its starred review, called it “an extraordinarily constructed work.” The Oregonian named the book “a masterpiece.” It is in its second printing.

Rusch began her professional writing career as an editor and writer for Teacher Magazine, a national award-winning magazine for elementary and secondary school teachers. That inside view of how magazine publishing worked gave Rusch what she needed to know to become a successful full-time freelance writer. She has published more than 100 articles in numerous national magazines for children and adults. Her publishing credits include Muse, Read, American Girl, Harper's, Smithsonian, Mother Jones, Parenting, and Backpacker, among many others.

After spending nearly a decade writing about children, Liz was itching to write for children. Her first book, Generation Fix: Young Ideas for a Better World (Beyond Words/S&S) was a Smithsonian magazine Notable Children’s Book and a finalist for the International Reading Association’s Children’s Book Award and the Oregon Book Award. It has been published in Korean and in audio book and is still in print more than a decade after publication. 

Will It Blow?: Become a Volcano Detective at Mount St. Helens (Sasquatch) was a Natural History magazine Best Book for Young Readers, a Washington Reads pick, and a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. It has been reprinted in hardcover.

Her nonfiction picturebook biography The Planet Hunter: The Story behind what Happened to Pluto (Rising Moon) which the L.A. Times called “a fascinating tale, charmingly told” was also an Oregon Book Award finalist and has been published in Korean.

Rusch’s picturebook, A Day with No Crayons (Rising Moon) won the Eloise Jarvis McGraw Award for Children’s Literature and was a finalist for the Illinois children’s choice award. The San Francisco Chronicle called the book “a gem,” and The Detroit Free Press described it as “a great story of imagination and inspiration.” The book has been published in Korean and is in its third printing.

Forthcoming books include a middle-grade graphic novel called Muddy Max: The Mystery of Marsh Creek to be published by AMP! for Kids and a Scientists in the Field book on ocean energy called The Next Wave due out with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Also in the works are books on glass artist Dale Chihuly and planet-saving chemist Mario Molina as well as a middle-grade novel called April Fool.

Rusch’s literary awards include the Kay Snow Literary Award, a Maggie Award, and an Oregon Literary Fellowship, among others. She teaches nonfiction and children’s literature at the Attic Institute and speaks widely at schools and writing conferences. To learn more about her books, articles, awards, school visits, and speaking engagements, please visit her website at www.elizabethrusch.com. Elizabeth Rusch is a member of the Ink Think Tank and blogs about nonfiction writing on the Interesting Nonfiction for Kids blog at www.inkrethink.blogspot.com. You can also read the blog about critique and the writing process run by her talented critique group the Viva Scrivas at vivascriva.com.

Liz lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, her two children, and her dog Reba.
Funny But True 

Elizabeth Rusch was almost born in a taxicab in the Queens-Midtown tunnel in New York City. Her mother made it to the delivery room of St. Vincent’s Hospital in the nick of time on October 14, 1966.

She is the third child of six, three boys and three girls, just like the Brady Bunch. Her brother Mike, older by one year, had a hard time pronouncing Elizabeth and could only sputter out Li-li, so her nickname became Lili.

(She was Lili until she bloomed into an ornery middle school student and insisted that everyone call her Liz. She sticks to her guns on this one, though her husband got away with calling her Liver once.)

Lili went to a small Catholic elementary school called St. Mary’s in Greenville, South Carolina, complete with knuckle-wrapping nuns in black habits. Little Lili loved staring out the window, chasing boys all over the concrete playground, and sitting under the shade of the pecan tree, nibbling on the nuts. She was an avid reader, but not a great student at first. (A-F grades were not-too-sneakily disguised as E for Excellent, V for Very Good, G for Good, S for Satisfactory, and U for Unsatisfactory. Little Lili got a few too many Ss and Us.)

One of her earliest attempts at writing was a gripping story of two girls racing horses, suspiciously named Lili (her own name) and Sharon (her little sister’s name). To this day, Lili does not know why she let Sharon win. Maybe she knew even then that in any good story the underdog must prevail.

Before becoming a writer, Lili was a playwright. Though she didn’t actually “wright.” She and her best friend Karen Anderson made up and performed plays. Their longest running series was the Carter Girls, about two clever girl detectives. (She also performed in local productions of Tom Sawyer, Oliver and Oedipus Rex.)

When her family moved to Guilford, Connecticut in the sixth grade, Lili, now Liz, started to pay attention and actually like school. She distinctly remembers thinking how interesting her classes were. She read legal cases and built a model city in Social Studies, peered into a telescope in Science, and wrote poetry in English class. Her favorite subjects went from recess to English, Social Studies, and Science. Once she got past adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing, she liked Math, too. (She still finds that almost everything in this wide world interests her.)

Liz went to high school, then college at Duke, then landed this amazing job as part of the start-up staff for a new national magazine for teachers. She was part of creating the magazine: the look-and-feel, the content, the marketing plan, even the budget. The magazine got the greenlight, and the editor hired editors and writers from top magazines across the country. When Teacher Magazine began publication in 1989, the big question was: What are we going to do with Liz?

Since Liz did not have a writing degree (she majored in Economics in college) or any real experience writing, she was made the Copy Editor. When offered the position, she told her boss that she was terrible at spelling and grammar. His jaw dropped.  But she promised to look everything up, and managed not to get fired. And that’s how her writing career really began.

Three Other Fun Facts
1. Liz's favorite TV show is Mythbusters.
2. She plays electric guitar, mostly alt rock.
3. Liz never has to set an alarm or wear a watch because her dog Reba (an Australian Shepherd/Brittney Spaniel mix) wakes her up in the morning (by staring at her), paces around her office when it’s time to to pick up the kids from school, and lets the family know by sighing and leaving the room that it’s time for the kids to go to bed. Oh...time to go get the kids!



Copyright 2013 Elizabeth Rusch

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