Ruth Heller (1923—2004) was a children's author and graphic artist known for her use of bright color and detail in both geometric design and the representation of creatures,plants, patterns, and puzzles. She worked primarily with a combination of colored pencil and marker for her book illustrations. Born in Winnipeg, Canada, she grew up in San Francisco, California, USA, where she lived until she died of cancer in 2004.
Heller began her career designing wrapping paper, cocktail napkins, greeting cards, and coloring books. She then went on to start writing and illustrating children's books in 1981. After a 6 year struggle she found a publisher for her first book, Chickens Aren't the Only Ones. Her books are written in a rhyming verse reminiscent of Gilbert and Sullivan, Hilaire Belloc, or Dr. Seuss.
Heller received a degree in Fine Arts from the University of California at Berkeley in 1946. She paid for her own education through secretarial work and proceeded to work as a secretary following graduation.
In the early 1950s she married Henry Heller and had two sons, Paul and Philip. Ms. Heller completed two years of graduate work in design at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, and got her first art job in the early 1960s, designing napkins, matchboxes, and gift wrap for Cost Plus. Henry died in 1965 and Ms. Heller poured herself into her career from then on, eventually expanding into illustrating puzzle books and coloring books for kids and adults.
In 1980, Ms. Heller visited an artists' colony in upstate New York, called Yaddo. She left that determined to start a new writing career. In 1985 she married Richard Gross who supported her work with enthusiasm until his death in 2002.
Most of Heller's books were published by Grosset & Dunlap. She wrote a brief autobiography called Fine Lines which was published in 1996.