Tolan, Stephanie S.

Born: 1942

Ohio connection: Birth


Reading late at night with a flashlight under the covers, Stephanie Tolan discovered early on the magic of the written word. Born in Canton, Ohio, and raised in Wisconsin, Tolan wrote her first story in fourth grade. Although she had received rejection slips by the time she was 11, Tolan continued to write, and majored in creative writing at Purdue University. In over 20 novels for children and young adults, Tolan’s work reflects her concern about social issues, and her protagonists have to learn to cope with the world and their own special situations. Her first book, Grandpa-and Me, shows how Kerry comes to understand her aging grandfather. One of several books about the Skinner family, The Great Skinner Strike, deals with Eleanor Skinner’s involvement in a nationally publicized strike, and was adapted for television. Surviving the Applewhites, a humorous look at a juvenile delinquent turned around by an eccentric, creative family, was a Newbery Honor Book. Well-known as an advocate for exceptionally bright children, Tolan is the co-author of the award-winning Guiding the Gifted Child, and lectures throughout the country. She lives in North Carolina.


Individual artist fellowships, Ohio Arts Council, 1978, 1981, and 1997; Post-Corbett Awards finalist, 1981; Ohioana Book Award for juvenile fiction, 1981, for The Liberation of Tansy Warner; Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Fellowship, 1981; Media Award for Best Book of 1983, American Psychological Association, for Guiding the Gifted Child; Best Book of 1988, School Library Journal, Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award nominee, and Books for the Teen Age selection, New York Public Library, all for A Good Courage; Sequoyah Children’s Book Award nomination, and Georgia Children’s Book Award nomination, both for Grandpa-and Me; Virginia Young Readers Best Choices winner, 1992-1993, Sequoyah Young Adult Book Award nominee, 1992-1993, Nevada Young Readers Award, 1993-1994, and Books for the Teen Age selection, New York Public Library, all for Plague Year; Sequoyah Young Adult Book Award nominee, for The Great Skinner Getaway; South Carolina Children’s Book Award nominee, for The Great Skinner Homestead; Mark Twain Award nominee, Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award nominee, 1992-1993, California Young Reader’s Award nominee, and South Carolina Junior Book Award nominee, 1996-1997, all for Who’s There?; Best Books for Young Adults, YALSA, 1994, Sequoyah Children’s Book Award nominee, Land of Enchantment Children’s Book Award nominee, and Editor’s Choice selection, Booklist, all for Save Halloween!; Ohio Arts Council Summer Writing Residency, Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA, 1998; Dorothy Canfield Fisher nominee, and Books for the Teen Age selection, New York Public Library, both for Welcome to the Ark; Dorothy Canfield Fisher nominee, Best Books on Religion, American Library Association (ALA), and Sequoyah Young Adult Book Award nominee, all for Ordinary Miracles; Books for the Teen Age selection, New York Public Library, for Flight of the Raven; Best Book of 2002, School Library Journal, Notable Children’s Books selection, Smithsonian magazine, 2002, Volunteer State Book Award nominee, Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, Books for the Teenage selection, New York Public Library, and Newbery Honor Book, ALA, 2003, all for Surviving the Applewhites.

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