A native of Ohio, Tolan was raised in Wisconsin where she penned her first story in the fourth grade. Her excitement for reading had led to enthusiasm for writing. After graduating with a degree in creative writing from Purdue University, Tolan earned her master's degree in English. Writing couldn't become an immediate priority because by marrying her husband, she also gained three sons in the process. Adding to the male household a few years later was another son, and Tolan only wrote adult poetry and plays while working at the college level teaching English.
Life changed when she was involved with the Poets-in-the-Schools program in Pennsylvania. Her writing for children flame rekindled, Tolan penned Grandpa--And Me
and later the Newbery Honor Book for 2003, Surviving the Applegates
. Because of her own highly intelligent son and the difficulties he faced during his childhood, Tolan researched intelligence and became an advocate for talented and gifted children. She wrote Guiding the Gifted Child
, thus helping other people recognize and understand their child's needs. A senior fellow at the Institute for Educational Advancement, Tolan lives with her theatric husband and their pets in North Carolina.
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