Even as a small child Mordicai Gerstein dreamed of being an artist. He spent much of his youth painting and exploring the world of art in Los Angeles and eventually went to the Chouinard Institute of Art. After moving to New York Gerstein began designing and directing animated television commercials. This medium was a natural outlet for his creative talents since he already had a love for cartoons, especially Bugs Bunny. He explains, “Even a thirty second commercial involved drawing and painting, as well as storytelling, not to mention actors, music and sound effects.”
In 1970 Gerstein met a young mystery writer named Elizabeth Levy and began illustrating her children's book series, Something Queer is Going On. Thirty years later they are still collaborating on the series. Levy encouraged Gerstein to write his own stories and after several years of perseverance and many rejection letters his first title, Arnold of the Ducks, was published in 1983.
Gerstein describes his love of making books as, “Each one seems to be, in some way, essentially different from the others, and each is a surprise to me. I think that making books, or any kind of art, might also be like mining. The artist digs into his or her life and imagination and never knows what they'll find. That's the adventure.”
In 2004 Gerstein's talent for illustrating children's books was recognized when he was awarded the prestigious Caldecott Medal for The Man Who Walked Between the Towers. In his latest illustrated title, Three Samurai Cats, Gerstein uses his lively illustrations to bring this ancient parable to life for both children and adults to enjoy.
Gerstein is not only an accomplished children's book author and illustrator, he is a painter, sculptor and award-winning designer and director of animated films. Morticai Gerstein lives in western Massachusetts with his wife, Susan Yard Harris, who is also an illustrator.