Isaac O. Olaleye
The son of a farmer and a trader, Isaac Olaleye was born in Erin, Nigeria, in 1941. The fifth of seven children, Olaleye saw his family double in size when his father took a second wife and had seven more children. After finishing primary school, Olaleye obtained a series of jobs to finance his further education; after stints as a messenger for the Department of Public Prosecutions in Lagos and as a clerk in a clothing store in Ibadan, he was able to travel to England to study. At Thurrock Technical College he received a diploma in law, economics, and biblical studies. He returned to Nigeria briefly before emigrating to the United States, where he pursued a variety of jobs — including painting houses and running a drapery business — before turning to writing full-time.
Olaleye's first book for children, Bitter Bananas, was published in 1994. Illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Ed Young, the book was acclaimed by critics for its freshness and energy. The story itself grew out of a story Olaleye heard from his father, and he has continued to draw on the rich resources of his childhood home in his work since. Olaleye also writes nonfiction and fiction for adults, and he has contributed to Highlights for Children magazine.
Olaleye lives and works in West Virginia, where he also enjoys photography, jogging, and soccer.