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Elvira Woodruff

“I write for the kid in me. . . . Often when I’m working on a story, I’II find myself laughing at something my characters have done, or even being surprised at where they’ve taken the story. It’s as if they have a life all their own. What I do is create them and then let them go on to entertain me. . . .”—Elvira Woodruff

Elvira Woodruff is the author of over a dozen children’s books and the recipient of several child-voted state awards.


Well-known for her popular children’s stories, author Elvira Woodruff had a long route to becoming a writer. In fact, one of her first jobs after leaving college was driving an ice cream truck. She has also worked as a receptionist, a janitor, a window dresser, a gardener, a shop owner, an assistant librarian, a waitress, and a storyteller. After working for several years in the children’s room of a library, Woodruff began writing professionally at the age of 35, and hasn’t stopped since.

Elvira Woodruff has always had a great imagination. She recalls, “my father was a truck driver and I would love to sit in his truck and imagine all the places he’d been. I’d sit behind the wheel, my head barely reaching the steering wheel and pretend that I was on the open road, off on some grand adventure to faraway places like Long Island, or Jersey City.”

Today, Woodruff believes that “what you have to do as a writer is to feel, look, and listen. Your stories then become a celebration of those observations. And, most important, a writer needs to fall in love. I’m constantly falling in love—with colors, with flowers, with wings, with bubbles, with mud, with goofy baby smiles. . . . When you’re writing under the influence of love, there’s a power that will weave your words into magic.”

Born and raised in New Jersey, Elvira Woodruff has also lived in Boston, Massachusetts. She has two sons, Noah and Jess. When she isn’t writing, Woodruff likes gardening—especially with blue flowers—and enjoys traveling. “[One] year I fell in love with Leonardo daVinci and flew to Italy where I rented a car and traced his footsteps from Vinci to Florence and Milan.” She also spends a lot of her time visiting schools and libraries, sharing her ideas about writing with children.

Elvira Woodruff’s book, Dear Napoleon, I Know You’re Dead, But . . ., is a clever and funny story about a boy who writes a letter to Napoleon Bonaparte for a class project, and receives a surprising reply. It has been included in numerous child-voted state award programs, including the Mark Twain Book Award program (Missouri), the Sequoyah Children’s Book Award program (Oklahoma), and the West Virginia Children’s Book Award program.


“Kids will appreciate the idea of being chummy with a ghost, and they’ll revel in wondering if he’s real or not.”—The Bulletin

“An engrossing tale.”—School Library Journal

Letters from the Underground Railroad

“This carefully researched and vividly imagined novel presents the emotional and gripping tale of one boy’s confrontation with the issue of slavery and its significance in American history.”—School Library Journal

“Woodruff combines swift pacing, historical detail, humor, suffering, depth, and precise characterizations, for a wholly satisfying page turner.”—Kirkus Reviews

Letters from the Overland Trail

—An IRA Teachers’ Choice

“The epistolary format and character development offer solid reading.”—Booklist

Author Bookshelf

Awfully Short for the Fourth

By: Elvira Woodruff

Noah Murphy carries his plastic "little guys" everywhere. One day, while sitting on the school bus with his younger brother, Jess, Noah makes a wish using magic powder from the toy machine.

Noah looks at his...

Dear Austin: Letters from the Underground Railroad

By: Elvira Woodruff

Now in paperback! In this companion novel to Dear Levi, told in letters,11-year-old Levi helps a young African American in a harrowing flight for freedom along the Underground Railroad.


Dear Levi: Letters from the Overland Trail

By: Elvira Woodruff

Illus. in black-and-white. In 1851, 12-year-old orphan Austin Ives joins a wagon train headed for California. As they make their way across the country, Austin writes home to his brother Levi, describing...


By: Elvira Woodruff


By: Elvira Woodruff


By: Elvira Woodruff


By: Elvira Woodruff

The Secret Funeral of Slim Jim

By: Elvira Woodruff


By: Elvira Woodruff

Small Beauties

By: Elvira Woodruff
illustrated by: Adam Rex

"One day this child shall hold the very heart of our family in the palm of her hand," predicts Granny on the day Darcy Heart O'Hara is born in a cottage on Derry Lane, in the town of Pobble O'Keefe,...


By: Elvira Woodruff

The Disappearing Bike Shop

By: Elvira Woodruff

The Ghost of Lizard Light

By: Elvira Woodruff

Fourth-grader Jack Carlton is miserable: His family is moving across the country and he might never see Iowa or his best friend again. But Jack can’t help cheering up when he sees his new home — an old...

The Summer I Shrunk My Grandmother

By: Elvira Woodruff

Budding scientist Nelly Brown is thrilled when she discovers an old chemistry set at her grandmother's summer cottage. The set includes everything for mixing up magic formulas, and guarantees that each child using the set can make a...

A Dragon In My Backpack

By: Elvira Woodruff