Leo Politi was born on Nov. 21st, 1908, in Fresno, California, but moved to his mother’s native village near Milan, Italy at the age of seven. Constantly drawing, he went to art school and worked as a designer and illustrator before returning to the U.S.
He settled on Los Angeles’ quaint Mexican Olvera Street, where he sketched tourists and sold drawings. Drawing Mexican children for magazines and books gave him an American career and professional identity.
His book Song of the Swallows was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1949. In 1980, the Fresno Public Library was named for him, and in 1991, the Leo Politi Elementary School was dedicated in Los Angeles on his 75th birthday. The City of Fresno and much of California celebrated his centennial birthday in 2008 with special events, exhibits, and recognitions.
Politi died in 1996.