Ruth Heller is known for her educational yet vibrant and fun children's books, which are also self-illustrated. Heller was born to a wealthy family in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1923. The family removed to San Francisco after a stock market crash left them poor. Heller paid for her tuition at University of California, Bekeley, by doing secretarial work. Always interested in art, and now possessed of a degree in the fine arts, Heller hoped to achieve her desire to work in the art world. She married Henry Heller in the 1950s, raised two sons at home, and served as a volunteer librarian. It was after her graduate studies at California College of Arts and Crafts that Heller was able to fulfill her artistic bent, by creating giftwrap and cocktail napkins for Cost Plus. Shortly afterwards, she was widowed, which drove her to work harder on her art projects. Under the influence of stories she read with her children, Heller was inspired to write a book called Chickens Aren't the Only Ones
which, when finally published, was so popular that Heller found herself with a brilliant writing career. Following this first publication in 1981 came Animals Born Alive and Well
along with the How to Hide
nature series and a sequence on the parts of speech. Heller's science- and language-focused works are made delightful by their illustrations and rhyming text reminiscent of Dr. Seuss. Heller passed away in 2004 of cancer.
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