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After receiving a fine arts degree from the University of California at Berkeley and completing two years of graduate work in design at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, Ruth Heller (1923-2004) began her career designing wrapping paper, cocktail napkins, greeting cards, and coloring books. After five years of rejection and one complete revision, Heller's first book, Chickens Aren't the Only Ones, about egg-laying animals, was published in 1981. It was so successful that the sequel, and second book to be published, Animals Born Alive And Well (1982), about mammals, quickly followed. In 1983 and 1984, her third and fourth titles, The Reason For A Flower (about plants that have seeds and flowers) and Plants That Never Ever Bloom (about plants that do not) were published. She then began work on a collection of six books, the How To Hide series on camouflage and the magic of this phenomenon in nature, which covered the entire animal kingdom -- insects, birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and sea creatures. The next collection of books became a five-volume series on parts of speech: A Cache of Jewels and Other Collective Nouns; Kites Sail 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. She also wrote and illustrated the unique and fascinating book Color, a charming and instructive guide to how art goes through the four color printing process. Among the notable people who have had an influence on Heller's writing have been: Ogden Nash, Gilbert and Sullivan, Edward Lear, Hilaire Belloc, and Dr. Seuss. Heller says of her work, "All my books are nonfiction picture books in rhyme. I find writing in rhyme enjoyable and challenging, and I think it is an easy way for children to learn new facts and acquire a sophisticated vocabulary. Children are not intimidated by big words. I try to make my writing succinct and allow the illustrations to convey as much information as possible."
To say that Heller has a way with words is to understate a multifaceted talent. In her previous books on language, her spirited verse and vibrantly hued pictures have provided lively lessons on the meaning of collective nouns, verbs and adjectives. Here, she examines nouns of all kinds: common and proper, abstract and concrete, compound, collective, singular and plural. The rhymed text of this book is as witty and smooth as its predecessors. Heller's vivid illustrations include a scaly, purple-tongued dragon; armored knights on horseback; a quartet of carousel animals; and a spectrum of fish, fruits and flowers. Intricate background patterns and designs further enrich many of the pages. Rarely does a book offer children so much to look at, listen to and learn. Ages 6-up. (Nov.)
K-Gr 6-- Nouns of all kinds are the subject of Heller's latest in her series of books on parts of speech. Common, proper, abstract, concrete, compound, and collective nouns are all defined and shown by example in usually lilting verse. Singular, plural, and possessive forms of nouns are also thoroughly covered, and determiners are explained and demonstrated. The rhyme form is used with amazing skill but now and then seems forced as in, ``Nouns are highly effective./ The last kind of NOUN is . . . COLLECTIVE.'' How and why they work are not explained. Striking graphic design with large clear objects in bold colors overflowing each double-page spread make the book a visual treat. The use of bold type for all the nouns is particularly pleasing and will make for easy reading aloud. Heller's language books challenge users' creativity since the concepts are difficult for the picture-book format. Conversely, the verse and illustrations can delight very young children while older readers are sure to find the concise definitions clearer and certainly more entertaining than any grammar text. Those who have found the others in the series successful will want this one. --Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ
"Heller explores types of nouns: common, proper, abstract, concrete, compound, collective, singular, plural, and possessive. ... Its lush, exuberant full-color artwork will grab kids' attention." --Booklist "With humor, style, and succinct, admirable precision, Heller summarizes everything most people will ever need to know about this particular area of grammar. ... A treasure." --Kirkus Reviews "To say that Heller has a way with words is to understate a multifaceted talent. ... The rhymed text of this book is as witty and smooth as its predecessors. ... Rarely does a book offer children so much to look at, listen to and learn." --Publisher's Weekly "Striking graphic design with large clear objects in bold colors overflowing each double-page spread make the book a visual treat. The use of bold type for all the nouns is particularly pleasing and will make for easy reading aloud. ... Those who have found the others in the series successful will want this one." --School Library Journal