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Rathmann was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and graduated from the University of Minnesota. She studied commercial art, fine art, and children's book creation in CHicago, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles. Her first book, "Ruby the Copycat, earned Ms. Rathmann the 'Most Promising New Author' distinction in Publishers Weekly's 1991 annual Cuffie Awards." That book was followed by her illustrations of Barbara Bottner's Bootsie Barker Bites; by Good Night, Gorilla, based on Rathmann's experiences with gorillas; and by Caldecott Medal-winning Officer Buckle and Gloria. Since then she has written two more: Ten Minutes till Bedtime and The Day The Babies Crawled Away, which made the Horn Book Fanfare List of best books of 2003.
In 2014 Good Night, Gorilla was a runner-up (Honor Book) for the Phoenix Picture Book Award from the Children's Literature Association, which annually recognizes the best picture book that did not win a major award 20 years earlier. "Books are considered not only for the quality of their illustrations, but for the way pictures and text work together."
Rathmann has illustrated at least six picture books, five of which she also wrote.
- Ruby the Copycat (Scholastic, 1991)
- Bootsie Barker Bites, written by Barbara Bottner (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1992)
- Good Night, Gorilla (Putnam, 1994)
- Officer Buckle and Gloria (Putnam, 1995)
- 10 Minutes till Bedtime (Putnam, 1998)
- The Day the Babies Crawled Away (Putnam, 2003)
Several translations have been published. Gute Nacht, Gorilla (2006) was named "Book of the Month" for September 2006 by the German Institut für Jugendliteratur (young people's literature).
- "About Peggy Rathmann". Peggy Rathman (peggyrathmann.com). 2004. Retrieved 2014-07-11.
- "Caldecott Medal & Honor Books, 1938-Present". American Library Association.
- "Ten Minutes till Bedtime (review)". Retrieved 2010-06-21.[dead link]
- "The Horn Book Fanfare List". The Horn Book Magazine (Boston) LXXX (1): 9. January–February 2004. ISSN 0018-5078.
- "Phoenix Picture Book Award". Children's Literature Association. Retrieved 2014-07-14.