Louis Slobodkin was born in Albany, New York, on February 19, 1903. He began the serious study of art at the age of 15, when he entered the Beaux Arts Institute of Design, where he studied sculpture, drawing, and composition. In his six years there, he won over 20 medals for his work, and was awarded the Louis Tiffany Foundation Fellowship.
In the 1930s and 1940s, he was very well known for his sculptures, and became a part of the New Deal public works arts program, eventually heading the New York City Arts Project. His sculptures can be found in Washington, D.C. (the “Young Abe Lincoln” in the U.S. Dept. of the Interior building), New York City, and other cities.
Slobodkin married Florence Gersh, a poet and children’s book writer in 1927, but he didn’t immediately become involved with children’s literature. He illustrated his first children’s book in 1941, The Moffats, by his friend, Eleanor Estes, with whom he collaborated on five more books. In 1944, he won the Caldecott Medal for illustrating Many Moons, written by James Thurber. During his career, Slobodkin illustrated nearly 90 books, 50 of which he also wrote.
He and his wife, Florence, collaborated on five books from 1958 to 1969, including The Cowboy Twins (1960). Slobodkin’s last book was Wilbur the Warrior, published in 1972. Mr. Slobodkin died in 1975.