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Children's author and librarian Barbara Classen Smucker was born September 1, 1915 in Newton, Kansas. Barbara began writing in elementary school and would later go on to earn a degree in journalism from Kansas State University in 1936. After university she taught English and eventually returned to her hometown in 1939 to work as a reporter for the Evening Kansas Republican until 1941. In 1939 Barbara married Donovan Smucker who she had interviewed for the paper. Donovan was a Mennonite Minister and the couple moved to Wadsworth, Ohio where he pastored a church. Donovan later took a job at the Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Chicago where Barbara got the idea for her first book, Henry's Red Sea. From 1967-1969 the couple lived in West Point, Mississippi where Donovan was president of Mary Holmes College. In 1969 they moved to Ontario when Donovan accepted an offer to teach at Conrad Grebel College.
Barbara became a children's librarian at Kitchener Public Library (1969-1977) and then head librarian of Renison College (1977-1982). During this time Barbara continued to write, producing some of her most famous works including Underground to Canada (1977) and Days of Terror (1979). In 1993 the couple moved to Bluffton, Ohio where she would continue to write and speak to children about reading. In all, Barbara wrote 12 books which were published in 16 countries and translated into such languages as Japanese, Danish, Swedish, French and German. She and her books received numerous awards including the Canadian Council Children's Literature Prize and an honorary doctorate from the University of Waterloo. Barbara Smucker died in Bluffton in 2003.