Ruth Heller (1923-2004) began her career designing wrapping paper, cocktail napkins, greeting cards, and coloring books after getting a fine arts degree from the University of California at Berkeley and two years of graduate work in design at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. Heller's first book, Chickens Aren't the Only Ones, about egg-laying animals, was published in 1981 after five years of rejection and one complete revision. Animals Born Alive And Well (1982), the sequel and second book to be released, was immediately followed by Animals Born Alive And Well (1983), a book about mammals. Her third and fourth books, The Cause For A Flower (about plants with seeds and flowers) and Plants That Never Ever Bloom (about plants that don't), were published in 1983 and 1984, respectively. She subsequently began work on the How To Hide series, a collection of six books about camouflage and the enchantment of this natural phenomena that covered the entire animal kingdom, including insects, birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and sea creatures.
A Cache of Gems and Other Collective Nouns; Kites Fly High: A Book About Verbs; Many Luscious Lollipops: A Book About Adjectives; Merry-Go-Round: A Book About Nouns; and Up, Up and Away: A Book About Adverbs constituted the next set of books, which became a five-volume series on parts of speech. Color, a fun and instructional explanation to how art travels through the four-color printing process, was also written and illustrated by her. Ogden Nash, Gilbert and Sullivan, Edward Lear, Hilaire Belloc, and Dr. Seuss are just a few of the noteworthy people that have influenced Heller's writing. All of Heller's publications are nonfiction picture books in rhyme, she claims.
Writing in rhyme is both pleasant and hard for me, and I believe it is a simple approach for youngsters to learn new things and expand their vocabulary. Big words do not intimidate children. I aim to keep my text to a minimum and rely on the illustrations to communicate as much as possible.