Stephen Gammell

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Stephen Gammell (born February 10, 1943) is an American illustrator of children's books. He won the 1989 Caldecott Medal for U.S. picture book illustration, recognizing Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman. His illustrations in Where the Buffaloes Begin by Olaf Baker (1982) and The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant (1986) earned those titles the designation of Caldecott Honor books.[1] Although he is most widely known for his evocative, nightmarish illustrations for Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark trilogy, he has illustrated nearly seventy books between 1973 and 2013, including nine which he authored himself.


Gammell grew up in Iowa. His father, an art editor for a major magazine, brought home periodicals that gave Stephen early artistic inspiration. His parents also supplied him with plenty of pencils, paper, and encouragement. He is self-taught.

He started his career with freelance commercial work, but became interested in children's book illustration. His first picture book was published by G. P. Putnam's Sons in 1973: A Nutty Business by Ida Chittum, featuring a "war" between squirrels and a farmer.[2] That same year he illustrated The Search (Harper & Row, 1973), a juvenile biography of Leo Tolstoy by Sara Newton Carroll.[3]

Gammell is particularly known for the surreal, unsettling illustrations he provided for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, a series of horror short stories by Alvin Schwartz that is still an adolescent favorite.

He and his wife, photographer Linda Gammell, live in St. Paul, Minnesota.[4] He works daily in his studio, located over a restaurant.



  1. ^ a b c d "Caldecott Medal & Honor Books, 1938–Present". Association for Library Service to Children. ALA. Retrieved 27 March 2010.
  2. ^ "A nutty business." WorldCat. 15 February 2013.
  3. ^ "The search; a biography of Leo Tolstoy.". WorldCat. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  4. ^ "Stephen Gammell: Biography". HarperCollins. Retrieved 27 March 2010.

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