Gail Gibbons was born in 1944 in Oak Park, Illinois. She received a degree in graphic design from the University of Illinois. She got a job doing artwork for television shows in New York City. She was eventually offered a job creating art for a children's show, where some of the children asked her if she had ever considered doing a children's books. Her first book, Willy and His Wheel Wagon, was published in 1975. Since then she has written and illustrated more than 170 non-fiction books for children including Nature's Green Umbrella: Tropical Rain Forests.