Meet A Mentor

Job: Illustrator of children's books
Birthday: December 22, 1939
Home: Croton-on-Hudson, New York

Jerry Pinkney gets new manuscripts in the mail almost every day from authors who want him to illustrate their children's book. How does he choose which ones to work on? He reads the stories carefully. "I ask myself, is there really a good, strong reason to do the book?" he explains. "Is there a chance to do something that's important to me? In the case of African-American stories, I'm drawn to them because there's such a need for those books. But that's also true of a story that might be about a Spanish kid, or a story about Native Americans."

Jerry is just as careful once his illustration work has begun. In the early stages, he "wallows in reference material" because he wants to make his illustrations as realistic as possible. Then he'll think and make notes for a while before he begins sketching. When the time comes to start drawing, he may work with live models — sometimes children — who can help bring the characters to life. He works hard in every illustration to get the details "just right": the setting, the clothes, the colors. Why is Jerry so careful? "When a pArcticular painting gives back what you have in your head, then it's magical!" he exclaims.

"When I put a line down,
the only thing I know is how it should feel..."

The Patchwork Quilt, 1985
The Talking Eggs, 1988
Turtle in July, 1989

Author study adapted in part from Meet the Authors and Illustrators
by Deborah Kovacs and James Preller (Scholastic Professional Books, 1991)

Instructor Grade-Perfect Theme Club Reproducible  •   Permission Granted to Duplicate

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