Jerry Pinkney

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Jerry Pinkney
Jerry Pinkney.jpg
Pinkney at the Mazza Museum in 2011
Born Jerry Pinkney
(1939-12-22) December 22, 1939 (age 75)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Occupation Illustrator, writer
Nationality American
Period 1966–present
Genre Children's picture books
Notable awards Caldecott Medal

Jerry Pinkney (born December 22, 1939) is an American illustrator of children's books. He won the 2010 Caldecott Medal for U.S. picture book illustration, recognizing The Lion & the Mouse,[1] a wordless version of Aesop's fable.[2] He also has five Caldecott Honors.[1] He has five Coretta Scott King Awards, 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).[3] 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.

For his contribution as a children's illustrator, Pinkney was U.S. nominee in 1998 for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international recognition for creators of children's books.[4][5]


Pinkney was born in the Germantown section of Philadelphia in 1939, and began drawing at the age of four. As a child, he had great difficulty with dyslexia in elementary school. 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 cartoonist John Liney, who encouraged him to pursue the career of an artist.

Pinkney 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. Upon graduation, he held a variety of positions in the field of design and illustration, including 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.

Pinkney's illustrative work often incorporates African American motifs. His works include Patricia C. McKissack's Goin' Someplace Special, a story of segregation in mid-century South.

Literary works[edit]

At a very young age Pinkney became interested in drawing at job he had, he was a newspaper boy and when ever 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. Mr. 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.[6]

Books illustrated[edit]

  • Arkhurst, Joyce Cooper. The Adventures of Spider (New York: Scholastic, 1964)
  • Garshin, V. M. The Traveling Frog (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966)
  • Powell, Fern. The Porcupine and the Tiger (New York: Lothrop Lee & Sheppard, 1969)
  • Trofimuk, Ann. Babushka and the Pig (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1969)
  • Hamilton, Virginia. The Planet of Junior Brown (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1971)
  • Martel, Cruz. Yagua Days (New York: Dial, 1975)
  • Taylor, Mildred. The Song of the Trees (Dial, 1975)
  • Taylor, Mildred. Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry (Dial, 1977)
  • Hamilton, Virginia. Jahdu (New York: Greenwillow, 1980)
  • Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver's Travels (New York: Franklin Library, 1977)
  • Flournoy, Valerie. The Patchwork Quilt (Dial, 1985)
  • Greenfield, Eloise. Mary McLeod Bethune (New York: Crowell, 1985)
  • Lester, Julius. The Tales of Uncle Remus: The Adventures of Brer Rabbit (Dial, 1987)
  • Buxton, Jane. Strange Animals of the Sea (New York: National Geographic Society, 1987)
  • McKissick, Pat. Mirandy and Brother Wind (New York: Knopf, 1988) ‡
  • Aardema, Verna. Rabbit Makes a Monkey of Lion (Dial, 1989)
  • Singer, Marilyn. Turtle in July (New York: Macmillan, 1989)
  • San Souci, Robert D. The Talking Eggs: A Folktale from the American South (Dial, 1989) ‡
  • Marzollo, Jean. Pretend You're a Cat (Dial, 1990)
  • Levitin, Sonia. The Man Who Kept His Heart in a Bucket (Dial, 1991)
  • Eisler, Colin, editor. David's Songs: His Psalms and Their Story (Dial, 1992)
  • Hamilton, Virginia. Drylongso (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1992)
  • Pinkney, Gloria. Back Home (Dial, 1992)
  • Willard, Nancy. A Starlit Somersault Downhill (New York: Little Brown, 1993)
  • Lester, Julius. John Henry (Dial, 1994) ‡
  • Pinkney, Gloria. Sunday Outing (Dial, 1994)
  • Kipling, Rudyard. The Jungle Book (New York: Morrow, 1995)
  • Schroeder, Alan. Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman (Dial, 1996)
  • Lester, Julius. Sam and the Tigers: A New Telling of Little Black Sambo (Dial, 1996)
  • Lester, Julius. Black Cowboy, Wild Horses (Dial, 1998)
  • Goldin, Barbara Diamond. Journeys With Elijah: Eight Tales of the Prophet (Harcourt Brace, 1999)
  • Andersen, Hans Christian. The Little Match Girl. Adapted by Pinkney (Dial, 1999)
  • Andersen, Hans Christian. The Ugly Duckling. Adapted by Pinkney (Morrow, 1999) ‡
  • Pinkney, Jerry. Aesops Fables (New York: SeaStar, 2000)
  • McKissack, Pat. Goin' Someplace Special (Simon & Schuster, 2001)
  • Andersen, Hans Christian. The Nightingale. Adapted by Pinkney (Dial, 2002)
  • Pinkney, Jerry. Noah's Ark (SeaStar, 2002) ‡
  • Lester, Julius. Little Red Hen (Dial, 2006)
  • Lester, Julius. The Old African (Dial, 2005)[7]
  • Pinkney, Jerry. The Lion and the Mouse (Little Brown, 2009) ‡ – wordless adaptation of an Aesop fable; also issued with a CD (Weston Woods, 2010) comprising sound tracks, author's note, and interview[2]
  • Nelson, Marilyn. Sweet Hearts of Rhythm. (Dial, 2009)

‡ 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.[8]

United States postage stamps[edit]

In 1977, the United States Postal Service commissioned Pinkney to create the first nine postage stamps for the Black Heritage stamp series.[9] 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.[10]


  • Building Bridges: The Life and Times of Jerry Pinkney. 2004.[7]


"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."[6]

"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."[6]


  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. ^ "Jerry Pinkney - Penguin Books USA". 2014-04-24. Retrieved 2015-09-19. 
  4. ^ "Hans Christian Andersen Awards". International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Retrieved 2013-07-22.
  5. ^ "Candidates for the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 1956–2002". The Hans Christian Andersen Awards, 1956–2002. IBBY. Gyldendal. 2002. Pages 110–18. Hosted by Austrian Literature Online ( Retrieved 2013-07-22.
  6. ^ a b c [1][dead link]
  7. ^ a b "Jerry Pinkney". Retrieved 2015-09-19. 
  8. ^ "Phoenix Picture Book Award". Retrieved 2015-09-19. 
  9. ^ "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 (NCAAA). Archived from the original on 2014-10-30. Retrieved 2015-05-16. 
  10. ^ (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 links[edit]