Ruth Ohi

People often ask Ruth if she always loved to draw. The answer is yes—but she didn’t always know that she wanted to be an artist. Ruth has dreamed of being many things: an astronaut, a teacher, a marine biologist, a scientist. It all depended on what she happened to be reading about or was interested in at the time. She went to the library every week and signed out a lot of books, which gave her a lot of ideas. Her mom and dad read to her every day. They also gave her blank sheets of paper, and crayons and markers that worked.

Ruth didn’t draw all the time, though. She liked doing other things, such as building with Lego, playing hide-and-seek or catch, cross-country skiing, or hiking in a country she’d never been to before. Sometimes, when she wasn’t doing any of that, she would make her own comic books, draw from her head, or copy things that she especially liked in a book so that she could keep the image forever. Drawing made her feel good.

And sometimes Ruth would just sit and do nothing but dream.

In grade eight, Ruth wrote that she wanted to be an illustrator of children’s books, but she forgot all about that and went to university to do other things. After a few years at the University of Toronto, she remembered how much she loved to draw. She then went to the Ontario College of Art, where they taught her how to do it better.

After graduating from the Communications and Design program, Ruth was very lucky to be offered a children’s book right away with Annick Press. She has now illustrated over 50 books, 15 of which she has also written.

Ruth has written and illustrated a number of picture books, including the five titles in the Chicken, Pig, Cow series about the adventures of three clay animals. She also wrote and illustrated Me and My Brother (2007), a blend of her energetic illustrations with easy, rhyming text to create a simple story that richly conveys the nature of brotherhood; The Couch Was a Castle (2006), a tale of how an ordinary couch becomes an extraordinary playground; Clara and the Bossy (2006), about a little guinea pig and her bossy friend; And You Can Come Too (2005), an endearing story about sisters Sara and Annie, who run away to their backyard but let Daddy and Mommy come too; and Me and My Sister (2005), a little book about the big bond between two young sisters.

Ruth’s latest book is Kenta and the Big Wave, which marks a shift to a more serious tone. As he and his family escape the waves of the Japanese tsunami, Kenta drops his most prized possession, his soccer ball. The story is a heartwarming tale about loss, resilience, and the kindness of strangers.

School, Library and Conference Presentations
Drawing for Picture Books
Ruth’s presentations may include a reading of her latest book (through digital slides for larger audiences), a slideshow showing the steps taken in creating a picture book, a Q&A, a drawing demonstration, and a chance for the students to draw. Please let her know if you would like a particular focus. Presentations can be adapted to suit any age group.

Presentation format: Slide presentation, Q&A period, and interactive drawing demonstrations with a chance for the students to draw.

Maximum: recommended: 120 students per session

Recommended age group: may be adapted to suit any age group

Length: 45-60 minutes; extended workshops also available