Author and illustrator Jerry Pinkney visited the Tatnall School on Feb. 23 as part of the school’s “I Love to Read” Month.
Keeping with this year’s theme, “Reading Olympics,” the program began with an Olympic-style opening ceremony complete with torch run.
Pinkney won the 2010 Caldecott Medal for U.S. picture book illustration, for “The Lion & the Mouse,” a wordless version of Aesop's fable. He also has five Caldecott Honor Medals as well as five New York Times Best Illustrated Books and Coretta Scott King Awards. A native Philadelphian, Pinkney attended the Philadelphia College of Art, now known as the University of the Arts. He began illustrating children’s books in 1964 and has illustrated more than 100 titles.
In each session, Pinkney discussed his background, his early love of drawing, his creative process, where he gets his inspiration and how and where he works. When speaking to the younger children he explained his struggle with dyslexia and how drawing helped him cope.
In each session, from the lower school to the high schoolers, Pinkney stressed the importance of doing research. He explained that before he begins a project he researches his subject. He tries to find as many examples and as much information as possible. He told them that research is important in everything they do now and in the future.
Before Pinkney read “The Lion and the Mouse” to the first- and second-graders, he told them that he loved Aesop’s fables growing up and this story was one of his favorites. It was while working on the illustrations that he decided the book didn’t need words. He explained each illustration to the children but when it came to the last page, he asked for their ideas.
“When I was reading the ‘Lion and the Mouse,’ I got the most special answers from you,” Pinkney said to the children. “You were using your imagination and each one of you had your own ideas, and that’s what I love.”