Jerry Pinkney was born in Philadelphia in 1939. Despite his difficulties with reading and spelling, he graduated from elementary school with honors. As early as the first grade, Jerry became known as the class artist. His parents and teachers recognized, supported, and encouraged his artistic talents. After graduating from Dobbins Vocational School in Commercial Art, Jerry Pinkney received a full scholarship to attend the Philadelphia Museum College of Art. He met his wife, Gloria Jean, while studying at Dobbins.
Jerry and Gloria Jean Pinkney later moved to Boston and raised four children.Two of his children, Myles and Brian, have also become successful children’s book illustrators.
Since 1964, Jerry has illustrated over 75 children’s picture books. His detailed watercolor illustrations have won five Coretta Scott King Awards and five Caldecott Honor Medals (including a 2003 Honor for Noah’s Ark). Many of Jerry Pinkney’s books address African American, multicultural, and historical themes. Jerry Pinkney collaborates regularly with authors Julius Lester, Patricia McKissack, Robert San Souci, and his wife, Gloria Jean Pinkney. In addition to children’s books, Jerry’s artwork has appeared in museums, magazines, greeting cards, and on U.S. postage stamps.
In this exclusive video interview with Reading Rockets, Jerry Pinkney talks about growing up as a slow reader and the early encouragement he received as a young artist.
See more of Jerry's books on Reading Rockets.
Books by This Author
Almost 100 fables attributed to Aesop have been selected and illustrated in this oversized collection. Familiar and less familiar tales are included, and most are distinguished by illustrations that give these old fables a fresh face. This large collection is an introduction to these classic stories.
When the girl in the red cape goes to visit her grandmother who lives on the other side of the snow-filled forest, she is approached by a sly wolf who then precedes her to her destination. While the story is well known, this version is distinguished by opulent illustrations that depict a brown-skinned child.
The well-known fable about how the smallest creature — a mouse — saves the majestic lion is a tale of kindness returned. Here it is effectively recast as a wordless story in a new setting. Stunning illustrations are expressive and emotive, evoking Africa's Serengeti while retaining the tale's power.
Books by This Illustrator
The story of John Henry, the man who beat a steam drill, is retold in lively prose and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney’s signature watercolors. Pinkney received a Caldecott Honor for the handsomely crafted illustrations which bring the folk hero to life.
Slightly adapted and newly illustrated, this thrilling, older tale is presented for a new generation of readers. When a mongoose washes up on the doorstep of an English family living in India, they name him Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. It is Rikki-Tikki who saves them (and other animals) from the vicious cobras who seek to do harm to them all.
Nella and her family live in a small town during the Depression so "Santy" Claus doesn't come very often. This year, however, he brings a special doll - and Nella, the middle child, learns that playing with her sisters is more fun than with the doll alone. Richly detailed illustrations add definition to time and place as well as to the characters.