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Jerry Pinkney (born December 22, 1939) is an American illustrator and writer of children's books. He won the 2010 Caldecott Medal for U.S. picture book illustration for The Lion & the Mouse,[1] a wordless version of the Aesop's fable.[2] He also has five Caldecott Honors.[1] He has five Coretta Scott King Awards,[3] four New York Times Best Illustrated Awards (most recently in 2006 for Little Red Hen), four Gold, and four Silver medals from the Society of Illustrators, and the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award (John Henry, 1994).[4] In 2000, he was given the Virginia Hamilton Literary award from Kent State University and in 2004 the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion for outstanding contributions in the field of children’s literature. In 2016, he received the Coretta Scott King - Virginia Hamilton Award for lifetime achievement.[5]

Jerry Pinkney
Pinkney at the Mazza Museum in 2011
Pinkney at the Mazza Museum in 2011
Born (1939-12-22) December 22, 1939 (age 79)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
OccupationIllustrator, writer
GenreChildren's picture books
Notable awardsCaldecott Medal

For his contribution as a children's illustrator, Pinkney was the U.S. nominee in 1998 for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international recognition for creators of children's books.[6][7] In 2012 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[8]


Pinkney was born in the Germantown section of Philadelphia[9] in 1939 and began drawing at the age of four. As a child, he had great difficulty with dyslexia in elementary school.[10] However, his love of and talent for drawing was useful in elevating his self-esteem and gaining the attention of his teachers and classmates. In junior high school his work was noticed by John Liney, who encouraged him to pursue a career as an artist.

He concentrated on commercial art at the Dobbins Vocational School as a teen, and was granted a full scholarship to the Philadelphia Museum College of Art, (now University of the Arts) where he met his wife Gloria.[11] He received the alumni award in 1992. Upon graduation, he held a variety of positions in the field of design and illustration, including one as a greeting card designer. Eventually he founded Kaleidoscope Studios with fellow artists, and two years later he opened his own Jerry Pinkney Studio and focused on illustrating children’s books.[12] The Pinkneys have four children, Troy, Brian, Scott, and Myles. Brian and his wife Andrea Davis Pinkney also both create and collaborate on award winning children's books. The other Pinkneys are involved variously in art therapy, design, and photography. They have six grandchildren who also all write, sing, paint, dance, and draw, making them the third generation in what Gloria calls “the Pinkney tradition.”[13]

He was the winner of the 2010 Caldecott Medal for his acclaimed children’s picture book The Lion and the Mouse (2009) and been the recipient of five Caldecott Honor Medals,[14] five Coretta Scott King Book Awards, four Coretta Scott King Honor Awards,[15] the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award,[16] and a lifetime achievement award from the Society of Illustrators in New York.[17]

Literary worksEdit

At a young age, Pinkney became interested in drawing at a job he had as a newspaper boy and whenever he had a break, he would draw. He had two older brothers who enjoyed drawing comics books and photo magazines and he began to follow in their footsteps. Soon he began to realize that he would rather sit and draw instead of doing other things. While in junior high school Pinkney worked at a newsstand and sketched people as they passed by. This is where Pinkney met cartoonist John Liney who encouraged him to draw and exposed him to making a living from drawing. Pinkney went on and graduated from Murrell Dobbins Vocational School and attended Philadelphia Museum College of Art. He later moved to Boston where he worked at a greeting card company and went on to open Kaleidoscope Studio with two other artists. He eventually opened his own studio, Jerry Pinkney Studio, and later moved to New York. Pinkney has always had an interest in diversity and many of his children’s books celebrate multicultural and African-American themes. Mr. Pinkney still lives in New York and has been an art professor at the University of Delaware, Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and State University of New York at Buffalo. Over the years he has given workshops and been a guest speaker at universities and art schools across the country.[18]

Books illustratedEdit

‡ As an illustrator Pinkney won the annual Caldecott Medal in 2010 for The Lion & the Mouse and he was one of the runners-up five times from 1989 to 2003 (exceeded only by Maurice Sendak).[1] Since 1970 the runner-up works are called Caldecott Honor Books.

In June 2015, Sam and the Tigers: A New Telling of Little Black Sambo, by Julius Lester and Pinkney, was named runner-up for the 2016 Phoenix Picture Book Award. The award recognizes the best English-language children's picture book that did not win a major award when it was published twenty years earlier.[20]

United States postage stampsEdit

In 1977, the United States Postal Service commissioned Pinkney to create the first nine postage stamps for the Black Heritage stamp series.[21] His designs featured images of Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., Benjamin Banneker, Whitney Young, Jackie Robinson, Scott Joplin, Carter Woodson, Mary McLeod Bethune and Sojourner Truth.[22]


  • Building Bridges: The Life and Times of Jerry Pinkney. 2004.[19]


"Books give me a great feeling of personal and artistic satisfaction. When I'm working on a book I wish the phone would never ring. I love doing it. My satisfaction comes from the actual marks on the paper, and when it sings, it's magic."[18]

"I wanted to show that an African-American artist could make it in this country on a national level in the graphic arts. I want to be a strong role model for my family and for other African Americans."[18]


  1. ^ a b c "Caldecott Medal & Honor Books, 1938–Present". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). American Library Association (ALA).
      "The Randolph Caldecott Medal". ALSC. ALA. Retrieved 2013-07-22.
  2. ^ a b "The lion & the mouse (Book, 2009)". []. 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2015-09-19.
  3. ^ "Coretta Scott King Book Awards - All Recipients, 1970-Present". American Library Association. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  4. ^ "Jerry Pinkney - Penguin Books USA". 2014-04-24. Retrieved 2015-09-19.
  5. ^ 2016 Newbery, Caldecott awards honor best children's books, Katia Hetter, CNN, January 11, 2016
  6. ^ "Hans Christian Andersen Awards". International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Retrieved 2013-07-22.
  7. ^ "Candidates for the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 1956–2002" Archived 2013-01-14 at The Hans Christian Andersen Awards, 1956–2002. IBBY. Gyldendal. 2002. Pages 110–18. Hosted by Austrian Literature Online ( Retrieved 2013-07-22.
  8. ^ Gorce, Tammy La (2012-09-14). "Jerry Pinkney's Work to Be on Exhibit in Yonkers". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  9. ^ WHYY Staff (July 18, 2013). "Jerry Pinkney". WHYY. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  10. ^ Wallace, Jane. "Jerry Pinkney, Children's Book Illustrator". Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity. Yale. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  11. ^ Cummings, Pat (1999). Talking with Artists: Conversations with Victoria Chess, Pat Cummings, Leo and Diane Dillon, Richard Egielski, Lois Ehlert, Lisa Campell Ernst, Tom Feelings, Steven Kellogg, Kerry Pinckney, Amy Schwartz, Lane Smith, Chris Van Allsburg, and David Wiener. Hong Kong: Simon and Schuster Books for young readers. p. 61. ISBN 0027242455.
  12. ^ Pinkney, Jerry. "Jerry Pinkney Studio". The Studio. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  13. ^ Bishop, Rudine (January 10, 1996). "The Pinkney Family: In the Tradition". Retrieved 2019-09-22.
  14. ^ "Caldecott Medal & Honor Books, 1938-Present". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). November 30, 1999.
  15. ^ "Coretta Scott King Book Awards - All Recipients, 1970-Present". Round Tables. April 5, 2012.
  16. ^ "Past Boston Globe–Horn Book Award Winners". May 30, 2011. Retrieved 2019-09-22.
  17. ^ "Jerry Pinkney | Society of Illustrators".
  18. ^ a b c [1] Archived January 1, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ a b "Jerry Pinkney". Retrieved 2015-09-19.
  20. ^ "Phoenix Picture Book Award". Retrieved 2015-09-19.
  21. ^ "Historical Themes, Tales and Legends: The Art of Jerry Pinkney: Sept. 22, 2002 - Jan. 4, 2003". Boston, Massachusetts: The Museum of the National Center of Afro American Artists. Archived from the original on 2014-10-30. Retrieved 2015-05-16.
  22. ^ (1) "Black Heritage". United States Postal Service. 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-03-16. Retrieved 2015-05-16.
    (2) Dunn, John F. (1987-03-01). "Stamps; New Commemorative for Black Heritage Series". Arts. The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2015-05-16. Retrieved 2015-05-16. The Du Sable commemorative is the first Black Heritage issue that was not designed by Jerry Pinkney of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y. although he was art director for this issue. The series has previously honored Harriet Tubman, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Benjamin Banneker, Whitney Young, Jackie Robinson, Scott Joplin, Carter Woodson, Mary McLeod Bethune and Sojourner Truth.

External linksEdit