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Louis Slobodkin facts for kids

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Louis Slobodkin (February 19, 1903 – May 8, 1975) was an American sculptor, writer, and illustrator of numerous children's books.

Early life and education

Slobodkin was born on February 19, 1903, in Albany, New York. He attended the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design in New York City from 1918 to 1923. He worked then as an elevator operator to sustain his living, as he studied Plato, Aquinas, Kant, and Goethe. He would deliberately get his elevator "stuck" between floors so he could read his books.


Slobodkin married Florence Gersh, a poet and children's book writer in 1927, but he did not immediately become involved with children's literature. He illustrated his first children's book in 1941, The Moffats, by his friend, Eleanor Estes, with whom he collaborated on five more books. In 1944, he won the Caldecott Medal for illustrating Many Moons, written by James Thurber. He wrote and illustrated the popular The Space Ship Under the Apple Tree book series. He was also the author of Sculpture; Principles and Practice.

During his career, Slobodkin illustrated nearly 90 books, 50 of which he also wrote.

He and his wife, Florence, collaborated on five books from 1958 to 1969, including The Cowboy Twins (1960). Slobodkin's last book was Wilbur the Warrior, published in 1972.

Teaching himself all manner of art from an early age, Slobodkin began to sculpt art at the age of ten. During the early 1930s he served as an assistant to Malvina Hoffman while she was creating the sculptures that would constitute The Races of Mankind exhibition at the Field Museum of Natural History.

His first brush with fame came in 1938 when his statue "Abraham Lincoln, Rail Fence Mender," cast in plaster, appeared at the 1939–1940 World's Fair, only to be abruptly removed and destroyed at the behest of an official who found the sculpture offensive. With the help of many of his friends in the art world, a bronze version of the plaster original was permanently placed in the Headquarters Building of the Department of the Interior in Washington, DC. Another plaster version resides in Lincoln, Nebraska.


Louis Slobodkin died at his home in the Bay Harbor Islands on May 8, 1975.

Selected works

Fiction and picture books as writer

Many of these books are illustrated by Slobodkin.

  • Clear the Track for Michael's Magic Train (1945)
  • The Adventures of Arab (1946)
  • The Seaweed Hat (1947)
  • Hustle and Bustle (1948)
  • Bixxy and the Secret Message (1949)
  • Circus April 1 (1953)
  • Mr. Petersand's Cats (1954)
  • The Amiable Giant (1955)
  • The Little Mermaid Who Could Not Sing (1956)
  • Melvin the Moose Child (1957)
  • The Wide-Awake Owl (1958)
  • Too Many Mittens (1958), illustrator and co-author with Florence Slobodkin
  • Gogo and the French Seagull (1960)
  • The Late cuckoo (1962)
  • Io Sono (I am): Italian with Fun (1960)
  • A Good Place to Hide (1961)
  • Moon Blossom and Golden Penny (1963)
  • Luigi and the Long-Nosed Soldier (1963)
  • Picco the Sad Italian Pony (1964)
  • The Polka-Dot Goat (1964)
  • Yasu and the Strangers (1965)
  • Colette and the Princess (1965)
  • Read about the Busman (1967)
  • Spaceship Under the Apple Tree series
    • Spaceship Under the Apple Tree (1952)
    • Spaceship Returns to the Apple Tree (1958)
    • Three-Seated Spaceship (1958)
    • Round-Trip Spaceship (1968)
    • Spaceship in the Park (1972)


  • Fo'castle Waltz (1945) – novel for adults, an illustrated account of Slobodkin's short career as a sailor aboard the tramp S.S. Hermanita


  • Sculpture: Principles and Practice (1958)
  • The First Book of Drawing (1958)

As illustrator only

  • The Moffats (1941), written by Eleanor Estes
  • The Middle Moffat (1942), Eleanor Estes
  • Rufus M (1943), Eleanor Estes
  • Many Moons (1943), James Thurber
  • The Hundred Dresses (1944), Eleanor Estes
  • Young Man of the House (1946), Mabel Leigh Hunt
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1946 reprint by World Publishing Co.) Mark Twain
  • Jonathan and the Rainbow (1948), Jacob Blanck
  • Red Head (1951), by Edward Eager
  • Gertie the Horse Who Thought and Thought (1951), Margarite Glendinning
  • The Alhambra (1953), Washington Irving
  • Love and Knishes: An Irrepressible Guide to Jewish Cooking" (1956), Sara Kasdan
  • Clean Clarence (1959), Priscilla Friedrich and Otto Friedrich
  • The Cowboy Twins (1960), Florence Slobodkin
  • A Thousand for Sicily (1961), Geoffry Trease
  • The Beautiful Culpeppers (1963), Marion Upington
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