Saturday, August 28, 2010

Brian Pinkney's Birthday, August 28th - Celebrating a Whole Year with Happy Birthday Author

Happy Birthday Brian Pinkney- Born August 28, 1961

In 2007, I had been a stay at home dad for just over two years.  Life was simple with just one child, especially, when nap time came around at 1:30pm.  During that time I got the crazy idea to start a blog to document my Happy Birthday Author lessons and ideas that I used when I was teaching three years earlier (Did I miss teaching? - probably just a little).  I remembered the weekly trips to the library to gather as many books as I could. I remembered reading the books and attempting to integrate the author's books as much as possible into my daily lessons. I found the program to be a great success for my students.  They were exposed them to a variety of books and topics that were not present in an other curriculum materials that I was provided at the time.

I had a rack full of file folders and ideas that I wanted to share from my teaching days, so I started the Happy Birthday Author blog.  The blog began just as I started the program in the classroom with author and illustrator Brian Pinkney's birthday.  When I look back on the first original posts I am proud of my growth as a blogger.  My posts have expanded from sharing lesson ideas to celebrating the author and the joy their books have provided my family. 

At the beginning of the 2010 school year, I no longer have desires to be teaching full time.  I am excited to see if I can continue to balance my time as a stay at home dad of three kiddos and a children's book blogger. It is highly rewarding to share with you my experiences I have reading to my children.  I hope you decide to celebrate author birthdays in your classroom or with your family.  The format provides a framework for introducing children to different authors and a variety of new books while having fun celebrating their birthdays!

Brian Pinkney is a highly acclaimed illustrator that has received two Caldecott Honors for the books Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra and The Faithful Friend. He also received four Coretta Scott King awards including one Best Illustrator Award for the book In the Time of the Drums and three honor awards for Duke Ellington, The Faithful Friend, Sukey and the Mermaid.  His unique illustration technique is called scratchboard.  Pinkney starts with a white board that is covered with black ink.  Then, he uses a sharp tool to "scratch" away the black ink to reveal the white board underneath.  He describes the technique as "drawing, etching, and sculpting all at the same time". The color is added last by using dyes and acrylic paint.

How to Draw on a Scratch Board -- powered by

Author and illustrator, Don Tate stated, "I love his distinct scratch board work. His illustration style is different from the super realistic style you often see in children's books. He illustrates for kids." (Cynthia Leitech Smith). It is this distinct illustration style that has allowed him to collaborate with over 15 authors including his wife Andrea Davis Pinkney.  Together the husband and wife team have published 16 books and most recently Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down and Sojourner Truth's Step-Stomp Stride.  There is a video below with Brian and Andrea discussing Sit In. Brian's family influences do not stop with his wife, Andrea. His mother, Gloria Pinkney and his father, Jerry Pinkney are also successful authors.

Brian has written and illustrated five books of his own; Max Found Two Sticks, JoJo's Flying Sidekick, The Adventures of Sparrowboy, Cosmo and the Robot, and Hush Little Baby. My family's favorite book is JoJo's Flying Sidekick about a young girl who overcomes her anxiety about breaking a board in her martial arts class with a little help from her loved ones.

Click Here to visit the original Brian Pinkney Birthday Post.

Check out Brian Pinkney's latest book with LaChanze, Tony Award Winning Actress, Little Diva:

1. Brian Pinkney's Website
2. In the Time of the Drums by Kim Sigelson, illus. by Brian Pinkney - YouTube
3. Reading Rockets video with Brian's Father, Jerry Pinkney
4. How to Draw on Scratchboard - YouTube


  1. I've been so focused on learning "through" literature that I haven't spent much time thinking about "learning literature." I've got lists of books on specific themes, but I kind of miss the joy of reading just for the sake of reading.

    Thanks for this post - I think I will take some time this year to focus on authors rather than just using them to focus on other topics...

  2. Happy Birthday! I'm sorry I'm so late getting to this, but I just needed to tell you how neat the entire idea for the site is. I love hearing more about the background as well.

    It's also nice to see that there are dad's out there who stay at home and do more than just play and clean all day. It's something we're actually considering in our own home as my husband is truly much more happy being at home with the children and I enjoy working so much. So, thank you so much for sharing and congratulations on a great year!


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