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 consistently 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."
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 ask