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Jerry Pinkney Tribute

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(December 22, 1939 - October 20, 2021)



Jerry Pinkney, award-winning American children's book illustrator and author, passed away on October 20, 2021, aged 81. He is survived by his wife Gloria Jean, daughter Troy, sons Brian, Scott, and Myles, nine grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.  Publishing house Little, Brown Books for Young Readers mentioned that he died after a brief, non-COVID-related illness.

Pinkney produced more than 100 children’s books over nearly 60 years, becoming one of the most decorated illustrators of his generation. His 2009 book The Lion and the Mouse, a wordless retelling of Aesop’s Fables about a mighty creature’s unexpected dependence on a tiny one, received the Caldecott Medal honoring the year’s “most distinguished American picture book for children.”  His other credits include The Little Mermaid, John Henry, Black Cowboy, and A Place to Land: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation.


Additionally, he was a five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for best work by a Black artist, served on the U.S. Stamp Advisory Committee, and designed the first Black Heritage stamps, including those honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, and Jackie Robinson.


Apart from his picture books, Pinkney provided the cover art for young-adult novels including Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Mildred D. Taylor’s work about a Black family in Depression-era Mississippi, and Nightjohn, a novel about slavery in the American South by Gary Paulsen.  Pinkney struggled with dyslexia but showed such talent for fine arts that he received a full scholarship from the Philadelphia College of Art.  He dropped out after 2.5 years to marry and start a family.  He was soon hired by a greeting card company in Dedham. Massachusetts, and went on to illustrate books for more than 50 years, beginning in 1964 with The Adventures of Spider: West African Folktales.


At the time of his death, Pinkney was working on at least two projects, A Walk in the Woods, a picture book written by Nikki Grimes, for Holiday House’s Neal Porter Books, and a memoir, written with his wife Gloria Jean, detailing his childhood struggles with a learning disability, and his path to becoming an artist against the odds; it will be published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.


His new book called The Welcome Chair is coming out November 2nd written by Rosemary Wells and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney.

                "I consider my work storytelling, and my craft, you know, the way I go about telling stories, is through a visual.  And in order to tell that story and to tell it effectively, I’ve got to understand my craft, and I’ve got to develop my craftsmanship.  I’ve got to develop my sense of color and mood, and all those things.  But why?

Why, because I’m trying to tell a story that will convince the reader and pull the reader in."

                                                                                                                                                                                                            -- Jerry Pinkney

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Jerry Pinkney's first book, The Adventures of Spider: West African Folk Tales, was published in 1964.

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Click on his picture for a full bio  

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His new book called The Welcome Chair is coming out November 2nd written by

Rosemary Wells and illustrated

by Jerry Pinkney

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During the pandemic, Jerry picked up pastels and set about creating a series of family portraits. From left to right are his daughter Troy, himself, and his wife Gloria Jean.  Jerry said in a interview using (chalk) pastels was a new challege for him.

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Jerry with family of illustrators and writers.

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Jerry Pinkney, international award by

Hans Christian Andersen

for Illustration


Jerry Pinkney and his wife of six decades Gloria Jean Pinkney


Jerry Pinkney Day proclaimed in Philadelphia in 2016.

From left to right are City Representative Sheila Hess, Gloria Jean Pinkney, Jerry Pinkney, and another. 


Jerry Pinkney and his wife Gloria Jean Pinkney, son Brian Pinkney,

and daughter-in-law Andrea Pinkney

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The book fair marked the first joint event for author-illustrator Jerry Pinkney (l.), author Gloria Jean Pinkney (r.), and their granddaughter, author Charnelle Pinkney Barlow (center).

Jerry Pinkney presentation and book signing at

Montclair Art Museum in

Montclair, New Jersey, in 2015.

(The Museum is having a Jerry Pinkney exhibit  from

February 6 - June 26,  2022

Jerry Pinkney, speaking at ESPER's meeting at

World Stamp Show NY in 2016

We have had the specific opportunity of collaborating with him on the upcoming exhibition “Tenacity & Resilience: The Art of Jerry Pinkney” for which he selected the title. Opening on February 6, 2022. This show will survey Pinkney’s entire career from 1979 to the present and aim to honor his lasting legacy in the field of American art.

Jerry Pinkney Exhibit at Montclair Art Museum 

Creative Corner with  Jerry Pinkney

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Kids at Norman Rockwell Museum

interview Jerry Pinkney


 Jerry Pinkney pre-signing some of his books at the Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia

"Witness: The Art of Jerry Pinkney"

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 Jerry Pinkney pre-signing books at his

publisher before being shipped out

Jerry Pinkney's best selling books

(Click on picture to start slide show)


Jerry Pinkney's best selling books part two

(Click on picture to start slide show)

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Jerry Pinkney interview in 2002 Reflections

by Clarence McKnight 

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R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton, Massachusetts, has 

a special page for Jerry Pinkney 

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