Rita Laima is a published writer, translator, and children's book illustrator. Born in the United States to the children of refugees who settled in New Jersey, Laima was raised biculturally, speaking Latvian at home. After studying art at Parsons School of Design in New York City, she traveled to Latvia in 1982 and lived there for 17 years. During that time, she experienced life under Soviet communism, the Soviet Union's efforts to russify her ancestral country, Latvia's National Awakening, and its long-awaited independence from the USSR in 1991. Rita Laima currently lives in the Washington, DC area.