Authors’ Corner: Jerry Pinkney

“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.”

(Jerry Pinkney, on Putnam Penguin website, 2007)

Jerry Pinkney is the author/illustrator of over 75 books for young people. His colored pencil and watercolors bring animals and children to life with an ebullience of spirit that is both contagious and inspiring, while also presenting true artistic rendering of historical and fictional events that readers of all ages can enjoy. Recently at the Tucson Festival of Books, Pinkney shared that his books allow him to grow as a person, and I would note they have also allowed him to grow as both an artist and as a connoisseur of what will delight readers of all ages.

Pinkney received the Caldecott Award for The Lion and the Mouse (2009), a marvelous story of strength and beneficence that uses eight words and a series of astounding illustrations to tell the story of how a mighty lion receives help from a tiny mouse. Prior to winning the Caldecott Award, he was the recipient of five Caldecott Honor Awards, the most recent for Noah’s Ark (2003), but you should look at all five as they are truly remarkable. He also won three Coretta Scott King Awards and two Honor Awards for Illustration. My personal favorite from those five is Mirandy and Brother Wind (1989), which is a book that touches me aesthetically as both a reader and an amateur artist.

Pinkney’s most recent books include Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (2011); Puss in Boots (2012); and The Further Adventures of Spider (2012). Joyful, joyful, joyful! Forthcoming is The Tortoise and the Hare (2013), which adds to the corpus of Pinkney’s other works on fables that are still timely and pleasurable to read. As a youngster Jerry worked at a newsstand, where he would sketch people who caught his eye. He noted this memory at the Tucson Festival of Books, along with the possibility of it becoming more present in one of his future endeavors.

Whatever Jerry Pinkney decides to do, he has a waiting audience. His books continue to inspire so many readers young and old, and I know that when I am able to move through The Tortoise and the Hare—his next work of art—I will be catching my breath! His work is that incredible.

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