DIGITAL TOUR: Jerry Pinkney: Imaginings

Aesop’s Fables (2015) &
The Lion and the Mouse (2009)

Music Credit: 
Circle of Life
Tsidii Le Loka, The Lion King Ensemble, Lebo M & Faca Kulu
Album: The Lion King (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Written By: Elton John and Tim Rice

Personification is central to Jerry Pinkney’s work, which frequently features believably humanistic animals. “For me, there is a balance between the natural beauty of a creature and my need to personify the animal to fit the story. I try to stay true to what the animal looks like in real life, while adding details, such as dressing up the character in human clothing—putting a chicken in a scarf, a hat, or a neckerchief—to show personality,” said the artist, who frequently poses as the animals he portrays. “And at times, depending on the story, other parts of an image can hint at emotion, too. Trees and flowers, the sun and moon, and even the wind can help to expand the storyline.”

Like his Caldecott-winning book, The Lion and the MouseThe Tortoise and the Hare, is inspired by the words and lessons of Aesop, a slave and storyteller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 560 BCE. The artist’s version of the tale is set in the American Southwest, where two competitors are cheered on by a lively array of animal spectators. His imagery reveals both the tortoise’s diligence and the hare’s overconfidence, but ultimately the tortoise is victorious, proving that “slow and steady wins the race.”

Jerry Pinkney’s rich interpretation of a timeless fable that cautions against idleness reminds us not only to work hard, but to find joy in sharing the fruits of our labors with others. In this intricately composed illustration, the grasshopper-showman attempts to lure an army of industrious ants to join him in a picnic of “fresh, yummy leaves,” and in “making music.” “One of my biggest challenges of retelling this story visually is the fact that grasshoppers and ants are quite different in size,” Pinkney said. In rendering their facial expressions, “I realized I could not be rigid in my representation of these creatures’ relative proportions.” As he worked on this book, a family of ants invited themselves into his studio, which is surrounded by woods, “marching across my drawing table and serving as the perfect inspiration and models.”

The Hare in the Cabbage Patch (2013)
The Hare in the Cabbage Patch (2013)
Illustration for The Tortoise and the Hare
Little Brown Company, New York/Boston
Watercolor on paper – Collection of the artist
Go! (2013)
Go! (2013)
Illustration for The Tortoise and the Hare
Little Brown Company, New York/Boston
Watercolor on paper – Collection of the artist
The Tortoise Takes a Tumble (2013)
The Tortoise Takes a Tumble (2013)
Illustration for The Tortoise and the Hare
Little Brown Company, New York/Boston
Watercolor on paper – Collection of the artist
Slow and Steady Wins the Race (2013)
Slow and Steady Wins the Race (2013)
Illustration for The Tortoise and the Hare
Little Brown Company, New York/Boston
Watercolor on paper – Collection of the artist
The Grasshopper and the Ants (2015)
The Grasshopper and the Ants (2015)
Title page illustration for The Grasshopper and the Ants
Little Brown and Company, New York/Boston
Watercolor on paper – Collection of the artist
Why Labor so Long? (2015)
Why Labor so Long? (2015)
Illustration for The Grasshopper and the Ants
Little Brown and Company, New York/Boston
Watercolor on paper – Collection of the artist
Look at this Wonderful Mountain of Leaves 2015
Look at this Wonderful Mountain of Leaves 2015
Illustration for The Grasshopper and the Ants
Little Brown and Company, New York/Boston
Watercolor on paper – Collection of the artist
If Only Someone Would Join Me 2015
If Only Someone Would Join Me 2015
Illustration for The Grasshopper and the Ants
Little Brown and Company, New York/Boston
Watercolor on paper – Collection of the artist
The Lion and the Mouse 2009
The Lion and the Mouse 2009
Cover illustration for The Lion and the Mouse
Little Brown and Company, Caldecott Medal Book
Watercolor on paper – Collection of the artist
Who Who Whoooo (2009)
Who Who Whoooo (2009)
Cover illustration for The Lion and the Mouse
Little Brown and Company, Caldecott Medal Book
Watercolor on paper – Collection of the artist
Mouse on Lion’s Paw 2009
Mouse on Lion’s Paw 2009
Cover illustration for The Lion and the Mouse
Little Brown and Company, Caldecott Medal Book
Watercolor on paper – Collection of the artist
Mouse Frees the Lion 2009
Mouse Frees the Lion 2009
Cover illustration for The Lion and the Mouse
Little Brown and Company, Caldecott Medal Book
Watercolor on paper – Collection of the artist
2017-03-01T11:38:08+00:00