A native of Philadelphia, Jerry Pinkney studied at the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) where, in 1992 he received the Alumni Award. He has been illustrating children's books since 1964, illustrating over one hundred titles and has been the recipient of five Caldecott Honor Medals, a Caldecott Medal, and five The New York Times "Best Illustrated Books". He has received five Coretta Scott King Awards, and four Coretta Scott King Honor Awards. His books have been translated into sixteen languages and published in fourteen countries. Furthermore, he has received numerous awards for a body of work. In 2003, he received an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University; in 2010 the Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa from the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, Lancaster, PA; and in May 2012 an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the Bank Street Graduate School of Education in New York. Jerry was also a United States nominee for the l997 Hans Christian Andersen Illustration Medal. The Society of Illustrators in New York, NY has presented Jerry with four gold medals, four silver medals, the Hamilton King Award, and in 2006 their Original Arts Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2011, he was elected into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame.
He lives with his wife, author, Gloria Jean in Westchester County, NY.