Lois Lenski was born on October 14, 1893, in Springfield, Ohio. She grew up in a tiny town nearby, Anna, Ohio, with only about 200 residents. Lois's third-grade teacher noticed that she liked to draw, and encouraged her to practice. "Under her direction . . . I traced pictures of pretty flowers from seed catalogs, and painted them with watercolors. I had only a twenty-five-cent box of Prang paints until 1907, when the fresco artist for the new church then being built, came . . . to stay with us. He told my father, ‘This child has talent. She needs a better box of paints.’ "

As a child, most of her artwork was copies of magazine covers that caught her eye. "What a pity that no one told me to just draw all the things around me, to draw everything that I saw, instead of copying other pictures. I had no idea ‘how to be original’ and it was many years before I learned."

Anna was too small a town to offer secondary education, so Lois rode the train every day to attend high school in a neighboring city.

Lenski earned her BA in education from Ohio State University in 1915. While there, she also took a few art courses. To her parents' horror, after graduation she did not become a teacher but instead moved to New York, having received a scholarship to study at the Art Students’ League. She studied there from 1915 to 1920, working various odd jobs to support herself. One of her jobs was hand-lettering greeting cards for the Norcross Company where she worked with Helen Sewell.

She also took night classes illustration in at the School of Industrial Art, taught by Arthur Covey, a well-known mural painter. The next year, he asked her to be his assistant while he painted murals for department stores.

She spent a year studying in Europe, then came home and, two weeks later, married Arthur Covey. He was a widower with kids of his own. He had another son with Lois.

Over her career, she wrote and/or illustrated over a hundred books for children. When she wrote about a particular region she often visited or lived there, in order to get an accurate feel for the area.

Lois Lenski died in 1974.

Here's the best thing: there is an elementary school in Littleton, CO, named after Lois. Here is what they have to say about it:

"Lois Lenski Elementary embodies the pride and spirit of the American public education system. Every aspect of the school, and the supporting community, is focused on providing the necessary tools for students to succeed and reach their individual potential. Lenski, the author, based her award-winning books on the simple lives of everyday children. She wrote, 'Only the rarest kind of best is good for the very young.'   Lenski Elementary strives to honor these words by helping children grow, learn and mature into confident, responsible and contributing members of society."


Books:

The Bound Girl of Cobble Hill

A Charming Display

Deer Valley Girl

I Like Winter

The Little Fire Engine

The Little Train

Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison

Now It's Fall

Sing a Song of People

Sing for Peace

Strawberry Girl   (1946 Newbery Award)


thanks to:
http://homepage.fcgnetworks.net/tortakales/Illustrators/Lenski.html
http://www.coe.uca.edu/ArkansasAuthorsIndex/lenski.html
http://avatar.lib.usm.edu/~degrum/findaids/lenski.htm
http://www.mlb.ilstu.edu/ressubj/speccol/lenski/History.html
http://www.ed.gov/offices/OERI/BlueRibbonSchools/1999Abstracts/16co04.html
www.amazon.com

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