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Dr. Spierenburg publishes children’s book

As a former elementary school teacher and pediatrician Skiff Medical Center Kid Care MD, Ruth Spierenburg loves working, reading and relating with children.

She grew up on a farm in Sioux Center and met her husband at Northwestern College. They lived and worked in Teaneck, N.J., where they raised their four boys. Her hard work and compassion has been featured in Parents Magazine as, “A Doctor in the House: This pediatrician, mother and wife of a minister/businessman juggles life around her home office.”

When one of Ruth’s sons was in seventh grade, his class was assigned to write a story for a second grade class. Although they chose a different tale, the idea of a children’s book written about the endearing story of Elian Gonsales stayed close to Ruth’s heart.

She started following the story closely and the timeless story of love, family and freedom inspired her on a course to write and publish her first children’s book, “Little Lad — A Tale of Love and Liberty.”

“I thought what a perfect story. A little 6-year-old who arrives here, clinging to life on a little inner tube and then is rescued on Thanksgiving Day,” Ruth said. “I never knew it was going to take this really sad turn, of course, so I just stopped the book where he’s safely here.”

Ruth found the most challenging effort in producing a book was finding an illustrator.

With the help of her son, Ruth was able to find an artist to do the illustrations for the book. Little Lad is full of wonderfully detailed and colorful paintings that came from a Spanish man named Dan Keylace who works for her son’s media company in New Jersey.

Through many years in the church as a pastor’s wife, Ruth felt that people respond best to a simple story. Telling the story of Elian’s journey in the format of a children’s book allowed her to get the message out without becoming lengthy.

“It’s a story of such courage and bravery, of a boy out alone in the ocean, clinging for life and his mother giving her all to get him to a better land. It epitomizes the story of people in Cuba and all over the world just wanting to be free and wanting a better life for their children,” Ruth said. “I think it’s important for children to know that places like this exist.”

Ruth continues to teach children through her work as a pediatrician. She has a tremendous spirit and love for creative writing, drama and humanitarian work.

Part of the profits will go to the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights founded by Dr. Oscar Eliaz Biscet Gonzalez, a physician who has been imprisoned and still lives in Cuba continuing his struggle for human rights.

The Lawton Foundation promotes the study, defense, and denunciation of human rights violations inside Cuba and wherever the rights and liberties of human beings are disregarded.

On Saturday, Ruth will be doing a book signing at Mattingly’s Book Store from 10 a.m. to noon. The book will be available at the store as well.

“Little Lad — A Tale of Love and Liberty” is also available for purchase in hard cover at Kid Care MD, 300 N. Fourth Ave. E., paperback at, or as an e-book through Apple.

Staff writer Kate Malott may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 422, or at

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