TTLG Author/Illustrator Profiles

Wendell Minor

Wendell Minor

Wendell Minor was born and raised in Aurora, Illinois. Drawing and painting have always been an integral part of his life, and after completing his studies at the Ringling College 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. “My love of America and my narrative style, with a sense of time and place, first came together in Heartland. All the subjects that interested me as a child: natural history, science, biology, American history, and love of the outdoors have come together in my work, and can now be funneled through the vehicle of a picture book.  It is my hope that my passion for these subjects will create a spark of interest in many a young reader that will help them find a path in their own lives.”

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, and currently collaborates with his wife, Florence as well, with whom he spent one month touring Pennsylvania's libraries, schools, Head Start facilities, and Museums when their book If You Were a Penguin was selected by Pennsylvania for their “One Book Every Young Child” program in 2009.

Wendell’s 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.  They have received the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio and Parents’ Choice Awards and been featured on PBS’s “The Reading Rainbow.” His books are frequently used in classrooms, and he speaks at schools and universities across the country.  In addition to illustrating and writing his own picture books for children, Wendell also continues to create paintings for book covers. His original art can be found in the permanent collections of many prestigious Museums as well as private collections.

“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.

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

Mr. Gilkey’smemory. Life has come full circle.”

Wendell and Florence live and work in Washington, Connecticut with their cats Sofie and Cinder.