22/11/2021 Jerry Pinkney 22 December 1939 - 20 October 2021

Jerry Pinkney was an American illustrator and writer of children's literature, illustrating over 100 books since 1964.

Born in Philadelphia, graduating from Murrell Dobbins vocational high school in 1957 he won a scholarship to Philadelphia College of Art, leaving before completing the course in order to work and support his family

His work, usually in watercolours, included picture books, nonfiction, and novels, also appearing as greetings cards, magazine illustrations, postage stamps. record covers, and in advertising campaigns.

Early in his career, many of the stories Pinkney illustrated were traditional tales, such as Adventures of Spider: West African Folktales by Joyce Cooper Arkhurst (1964), VM Garshin’s The Travelling Frog (1966) and Folktales and Fairytales of Africa by Lila Green (1968).

That changed in the 1970s, when children’s books began to include more diverse families, and Pinkney, along with several other African-American illustrators, had the opportunity to bring contemporary stories that reflected their heritage. In addition to book work, in the 70s Pinkney worked on national projects, including the black  heritage stamp series for the U.S. postal service.

He also taught at several universities, including the University of Delaware, the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and the University at Buffalo, New York state.

Pinkney  won all the major US book prizes, including the Boston-Globe Horn book award for his illustrations to John Henry by Julius Lester (1994); the Caldecott medal for The Lion and the Mouse (2010), a wordless picture book of Aesop’s fable; and the Laura Ingalls Wilder medal (now the Children’s Literature Legacy award) in 2016.

He was appointed a member of the National Council of the Arts in 2003 by President George W Bush and was the first children’s book illustrator elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2012.

 

Pinkney became the most exhibited illustrator in American museums.

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