Jerry Pinkney, a children’s book author and illustrator, has been internationally recognized for his contribution to the arts. Today is the Philadelphia native’s birthday, and we’re taking a look back at his highly decorated career.
Pinkney was born in the Germantown section of Philadelphia in 1939. As a boy, Pinkney suffered from dyslexia and was withdrawn but found an outlet via art. Through the urging of teachers and notable cartoonist John Liney, Pinkney dove into the craft even further. He entered the Philadelphia Museum College of Art (now University of the Arts) where he met his wife, Gloria.
After working several odd jobs as a designer and illustrator, he began penning children’s books in 1964. Among his early successes was being commissioned to provide art for the first nine U.S. Post Office Black Heritage stamps featuring the likenesses of Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Benjamin Banneker, Jackie Robinson, Whitney Young, Scott Joplin, Carter Woodson, Mary McLeod Bethune and Sojourner Truth.
In 2010, Pinkney won the Caldecott Medal for his wordless rendition of “Aesop’s Fable” titled “The Lion & The Mouse.” The award is the highest American honor for a children’s picture book. In 2016, he won the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award, which acknowledges the achievements of Black children’s book authors and illustrators.
In 1998, Pinkney was nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award, which is the highest international recognition for children’s book creators. He’s also been an art professor at the University of Delaware, Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and State University of New York at Buffalo.
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