Many of us have favorite books from our childhoods that we think of in times of nostalgia, but when it comes to remembering these impactful tales, we almost always remember the drawings that bring the stories to life rather than the words themselves. Jerry Pinkney, the illustrator who has brought life and vision to more than one hundred original novels including famous tales like The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, and Sam and The Tigers by Julius Lester, struggled with undiagnosed dyslexia his whole life. In early childhood, high school, and college, dyslexia gave Pinkney trouble with academics and he found his strengths in the fine arts. His natural talent in the arts brought him to Dobbins Vocational School in Philadelphia, where upon his graduation in 1957, he was given a full scholarship to attend the Philadelphia College of Art. After leaving PCA, Pinkney moved to Boston and worked for the Rust Craft Greeting Card Company. In his time away from work, he found a community of friends with other artists of color in the Boston Action Group.

In 1962, Pinkney started working with Barker-Black, a design and illustration studio, that led him to illustrating his first of many books. After nearly ten years of working with Barker-Black, Pinkney established the Jerry Pinkney Studio in northern New York, where he continued his illustration work with much success and prosperity. In addition to his illustration work, Pinkney has also been a professor at The Pratt Institute in New York, The University of Delaware, and more. His work has been displayed across the world and he was the first African American recipient of The Caldecott Medal, which annually recognizes the artist of the most distinguished children’s book of the year. To learn more about Jerry Pinkney and his wonderful career as an artist and educator click the link to his website.