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WENDELL MINOR
Writer & Illustrator

BIOGRAPHY I BOOKS I PRESENTATIONS I BOOK ORDERING

Wendell Minor was born

and raised in the town of Aurora,

Illinois. Drawing and painting

have always been an integral

part of his life, and after

completing his studies at the

Ringling School of Art and

Design in Sarasota, Florida,

Wendell began creating original

designs for book publishers in

New York City.

His children's books have

consistently exhibited his love

for the land and environment.

Illustrating books for naturalist

authors Jean Craighead George

and Diane Siebert, among others, he approaches his art by researching and experiencing each environment he illustrates. His travels have taken him from

the tropical Everglades of Florida to Barrow, Alaska in the Arctic Circle, from the Midwest to the Grand Canyon in the Southwest, and throughout the United States. In addition to picture books, Minor has created cover art and interior illustrations for novels for young people, including Jean Craighead George's Julie and Julie's Wolf Pack, and redesigned the cover for the twenty-fifth anniversary edition of the Newbery award-winning Julie of the Wolves. He has also authored several of his own books.

His books have frequently been named on the annual lists for Notable Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies, Outstanding Science Trade Books, and IRA Teachers' Choices. His books have also received the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio and Parents' Choice Awards and been featured on PBS's "The Reading Rainbow." Recent awards and honors include the following. The Wolves are Back was a Junior Literary Guild Selection, a Parents’ Choice Recommended Award winner for 2008, a 2009 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book, a 2008 ASPCA Henry Bergh Children's Book Award winner, a 2009 Green Earth Award Honor Book; included in the 2009-2010 Delaware Diamonds Master List, the Texas Woman's University School of Library and Information Studies' Librarians' Choices Master List of 2008, and the 2009 American Association for the Advancement of Science top science books for children. Abraham Lincoln Comes Home was a 2009 CBC-Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young Readers and among the 2009 Kansas State Reading Circle Recommended Reading List. It was also included in the Book-of-the-Month Club and featured as a Children’s Book-of-the Month Club alternate selection in their Last Minute Holiday catalog. If You Were a Penguin was selected by Pennsylvania for their 2009 “One Book, Every Young Child” program. Sitting Bull Remembers is one of Bank Street College of Education's 2008 Best Children’s Books of the Year, and Ghost Ship was a New York Times Best Seller.

Wendell has had numerous solo exhibitions, and his work can be found in the permanent collections of the Norman Rockwell Museum, the Illinois State Museum, Muskegon Museum of Art, Mattatuck Museum (of Connecticut), the Mazza Museum at Findlay University,  the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Museum of American Illustration, NASA, Arizona Historical Society, U.S. Coast Guard and the Library of Congress.

He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, he serves on the Advisory Council for the Connecticut Center for the Book, and is a member of The Children's Book Council (CBC), a non-profit trade organization dedicated to encouraging literacy and the use and enjoyment of children's books.

Wendell and his wife and business partner, Florence, live and work in Connecticut with their cats, Sofie and Cindercat.

 

IN HIS OWN WORDS

(From "The Eighth Book of Junior Authors and Illustrators 2000," edited by Connie Rockman)

 

I can remember watching a mother robin feed her young in a tree just outside my schoolroom window when I was in first grade. At the time, I was seated in a circle of chairs with my classmates and we were supposed to be reading from our Fun with Dick and Jane readers. Miss Cottington reminded me that I should not daydream, but pay attention to my reading!  My world has always been visual. Reading appreciation came to me later in life.

 

By the time I was in fourth grade, I knew I would be an artist someday. I was praised for my drawing ability, and that gave me a sense of self-esteem that nurtured my desire to excel. Thanks to my father, who was an avid outdoorsman, I learned to be a keen observer of nature. We would sit for hours waiting for the fish to bite or a squirrel to appear on a high branch in an oak tree.


My sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Gilkey, brought the art of the written word to me by reading aloud to our class the works of some of
America's greatest writers. Jack London was my favorite. I will never forget The Call of the Wild. Mr. Gilkey's deep voice made the words come alive with vivid pictures of the Far North. It was at that moment that my visual world and reading came together. In retrospect, it was that particular experience that forged my future as an illustrator of books! It was therefore a great pleasure for me to paint full-color pictures for a new edition of The Call of the Wild, published as a Scribner's Modern Classic in the fall of 1999, and to dedicate these illustrations to his memory. Life has come full circle.


In 1986, I was asked to read a poem by Diane Siebert entitled Mojave. I remember that day very well and knew immediately that I wanted to paint pictures for Diane's visually rich and beautifully descriptive text. We clearly shared a love of nature and passion for a sense of place. From that day forward I knew that my mission as an artist was to communicate to future generations of children that love of nature and sense of place. My interest in reading, natural history, science, landscape painting, and
America would be brought together in one place to create children's picture books celebrating all manner of natural environments from every corner of our great land.

MORE INFORMATION

Please visit http://wildrosereader.blogspot.com/2007/11/roberts-snow-starring-wendell-minor.html to read an interview with Wendell Minor and to see some of his artwork.

Please visit the YouTube virtual tour of the *Reaching for the Moon* exhibition at the New Britain Museum of American Art in 2009, which features artwork for a large number of Wendell Minor's books: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKb36BBwDAo.

If you love trains, see this video about The Last Train: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3caJkMjGLiw.

Watch Wendell Minor talk about The Last Polar Bear at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWGvcW6nmaw.