Berman was a self-taught painter who worked as a professional artist for more than 30 years. In 2001, she illustrated her first picture book, Pigmalion, written by Glenda Leznoff (Tradewind Books). That venture was followed by two collaborations with author Tim Beiser, Bradley McGogg, the Very Fine Frog in 2009 and Miss Mousie’s Blind Date in 2012. Both books were finalists for the Governor General’s Literary Award for children’s illustration.
In a statement posted on the Talking with Tundra blog, Tundra Books publisher Alison Morgan says, “Rachel was a free spirit, and a wonderful, warm person…. She lived an incredible life, which was reflected in her art – her light side came out in the illustrations she created for her books with Tim Beiser. Hats off to the memory of an intrepid individual who cared deeply about humanity in all its huge variety.”
Born in New Orleans in 1946, Berman, who was previously known as Susan King, discovered the details about her birth date, biological parents, and real name (which she then reclaimed) only 10 years ago.
According to her wishes, there will be no funeral or memorial service, but friends are invited to remember Berman at the Ingram Gallery in Toronto, where she often exhibited, or through a donation to an art institute or animal shelter.