Philadelphia honors children’s book illustrator, native son


PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Celebrated children’s book illustrator Jerry Pinkney received some brotherly love Tuesday from his hometown of Philadelphia, where officials honored him for his career achievements.

Pinkney, whose drawings have brought to life more than 100 books, has inspired generations of youngsters, said Kelly Lee, the city’s chief cultural officer.

“His stories and vivid illustrations demonstrate not only his immense talent but also the love and care and sense of responsibility for our children with each book he has created,” Lee said during a ceremony at City Hall.

The artist received two lifetime achievement awards from the American Library Association this year and was named the artist laureate of the Norman Rockwell Museum in June. Over his five-decade career, his books have been published in 16 languages in 14 countries.

Pinkney said curiosity, history and literature are what drives his work.

“My role is not just to interpret a text, but it’s also to grow as a person so that the literature — the projects that I choose — in some way enlarge and enrich my life,” he said.

Pinkney signed a copy of his book “The Lion and the Mouse,” a wordless adaptation of one of Aesop’s fables, which will be displayed at City Hall.

Officials gave Pinkney a replica of the Liberty Bell, and he also received a collection of drawings made by children at a local camp who have studied his work.

Pinkney said his hometown and African-American history played powerful roles in his career. He grew up in a neighborhood that was part of the Underground Railroad, had his first art experience at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and attended the University of the Arts.