Lois Lenski Biography

Lois Lenski (1893-1974), prolific American writer and illustrator of books for children. Lenski was born in Springfield, Ohio, and she received her bachelor's degree in education from Ohio State University in 1915. She studied at the Art Students League in New York City from 1915 to 1920 and at the Westminster School of Art in London from 1920 to 1921. Lenski began her career illustrating books for children. In the mid-1920s she began to write and illustrate her own children's stories.

Early in her writing career, Lenski authored a series of novels for children set in periods of United States history. Two of these books, Phebe Fairchild, Her Book (1936) and Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison (1941), were named Newbery Honor Books. Lenski later wrote a series of 17 books focusing on the lives of poor working-class girls and boys in different regions of the United States. One of these novels, Strawberry Girl (1945), about life on a strawberry farm in Florida during the early 1900s, received the 1946Newbery Medal. Other notable books in this series include Blue Ridge Billy (1946), Cotton in My Sack (1949), and Shoo-Fly Girl (1963).

Lenski illustrated all the books she wrote, and she continued to illustrate books by other writers. Her artwork for the “Betsy-Tacy” series, by American children's-book author Maud Hart Lovelace, is among Lenski's most popular. Lenski also wrote and illustrated many picture books for young children, such as Jack Horner's Pie (1927) and a series of picture books featuring the character Mr. Small in a variety of professions. In 1969 the Catholic Library Association awarded her the Regina Medal in honor of her entire body of work. Lenski wrote an autobiography, Journey into Childhood (1972), in response to repeated requests from children and librarians.

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