Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ruth Heller on Science

Tell me, are you familiar with the work of Ruth Heller?  Because not too long ago I wasn't very familiar with her work... but as I've spent a great deal of time scavenging through used books over the past several years I've come across  more and more of her titles.  Recently, I decided I really needed to dive into the world of Ruth Heller.  The problem was my library didn't have many of her books.  So, I called my sister Bonnie and made her borrow every Ruth Heller book in the Salt Lake City library system, what a great sister!

Today we're talking about Heller's science themed books.

Her first published book was Chickens Aren't the Only Ones (1981) I believe this is the most well known of  her titles.  (It's the first book I ever read by Heller.)  
In it, Heller elaborates on the many different creatures that lay eggs.  Her writing style is rhythmic, artistic and whimsical... but she's writing about science!  And I love it!  And my kids have loved this book... I think I started reading it to Dax when he was three, we've been reading it ever since.
... a butterfly is born.  (I couldn't leave you hanging there.)

It's such a cool book!  But there's more, because look at her illustrations! Amazing!  Beautiful!  Incredible!
Here World of Nature series includes:
Chickens Aren't the Only Ones (about egg laying animals) 1981
Animals Born Alive and Well (about mammals) 1982
The Reason for a Flower (about plants that have seeds and flowers) 1983
Plants That Never Ever Bloom (about plants that do not) 1984

Here's a page from The Reason for a Flower...

Later she wrote a series on camouflage:
How to Hide a Butterfly and Other Insects (1992)
How to Hide an Octopus and Other Sea Creatures (1992)
How to Hide a Polar Bear and Other Mammals (1994)
How Hide A Crocodile (1994)
How to Hide a Meadow Frog and Other Amphibians (1995)
How to Hide a Parakeet and Other Birds (1995)

I think Heller's books are wonderful.  She had a real gift with words and illustrations.  Before she started writing children's books she began illustrating coloring books for children and adults.  I know that many in the art world (and education world) frown upon coloring books (stifling creativity and all that) but, I happen to love coloring books- I always have.  I ordered one of hers and I think it's SO cool.

The very last book she ever wrote was scientific in nature.  "Galapagos" Means "Tortoises" published in 2003, the year before she died.  It's filled with tons of interesting information.  She left quite a legacy with her amazing work.  More tomorrow...
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PS I just have to add that the used copies I've run across (published by scholastic) are a much better print than those currently available.  Does that make sense?  The newest reprints (by a publisher I'll leave unnamed) just don't do justice to her artwork in my opinion, fyi.

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