As published in Berkshire Living Magazine, Issue #54, November/December 2010

Illustrator Jerry Pinkney

Illustrator Jerry Pinkney

This year has been a momentous one for illustrator Jerry Pinkney. Not only was his newest children’s book, Three Little Kittens, published in October, but he also is celebrating fifty years of an influential career.

“It’s like having two weddings in the same year,” Pinkney says. “It’s a churning of energy, of excitement, of expectations.”

Pinkney has illustrated more than one hundred classic children’s books, garnering almost as many awards and honors, the most recent being the prestigious Caldecott Medal, awarded for his 2009 picture book, The Lion and the Mouse.. Based on a variety of sources, such as African-American tradition, classic literature, and well-known folk takes, his work is showcased in a retrospective exhibition, Witness: The Art of Jerry Pinkney, on view at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., beginning November 13.

While Pinkney has had numerous shows at museums across the country, he says that this one is unique in that it has more to offer.

“What makes it special for me, and I hope for the audience as well, is that there are going to be images that people have not seen before,” the artist says excitedly. “Most people know the work I’ve done for children’s books because it is readily available… so some of the work will represent that other world.”

Illustration from Jerry Pinkney's The Lion and the Mouse (2009).

Illustration from Jerry Pinkney’s The Lion and the Mouse (2009).

That “other world” includes illustrations commissioned for clients such as National Geographic, the African Burial Ground Interpretive Center, the National Park Service, and the United States Postal Service, among others.

After a half-century in the business, Jerry Pinkney continues to, as he puts it, “educate, engage, and tease” his readers with vibrant and fanciful illustrations. He still finds his job just as rewarding as when he first started, continually sharing his “personal growth as well as artistic growth.” And with such a large catalog to choose from, readers of all ages can continue to grow right alongside him.