Lynne Rae Perkins writes and illustrates picture books for young children (Snow Music) as well as novels for middle and high school kids. Her stories explore family, friendships, and the many small but meaningful moments that shape childhood and adolescence. Her YA novel Criss Cross, winner of the 2006 Newbery Medal, is a book of vignettes, illustrations, photographs, and poems about a group of four small-town teenagers. Perkins also draws inspiration from the sights and sounds of the natural world.
Perkins was born in Pittsburgh and grew up in a small town not far from there along the Allegheny River. Her 1950s and 60s childhood looked like this: bike riding, wiffle ball, jump rope, lightning bug hunting, board games, sledding, rambles through the nearby woods, porch sitting, and listening to stories told by the grownups. The family went on vacations to the seashore and to visit cousins in West Virginia. Perkins says, “There were quiet times, too: time to read, to lie in the hammock, to be bored, to make projects, to play piano, to daydream.”
Perkins studied art at Penn State University and at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. After graduating, Perkins took on a variety of jobs – framing pictures, teaching drawing and watercolor classes, and working for a model railroad company – before moving to Boston to begin a career as a graphic designer.
In Boston she met her husband, Bill, and together they relocated to Michigan and grew Christmas trees and lived in a tiny cabin on a hillside. All the while, Perkins drew and painted. In 1993, Perkins had the opportunity to show her portfolio to Ava Weiss, the art director of Greenwillow Books, and that led to the publication of her first picture book, Home Lovely. Since then, Perkins has written and illustrated a number of award-winning picture books, including Snow Music and Pictures from Our Vacation. She illustrated Seed by Seed, a picture book biography of Johnny Appleseed.
Perkins has also written and illustrated a number of books for older readers, including the squirrel story Nuts to You, the coming-of-age story All Alone in the Universe, and a “picaresque” adventure story As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth. In 2006, Perkins received the Newbery Medal for Criss Cross, a book of vignettes, illustrations, photographs, and poems about a group of four small-town teenagers.
Perkins lives with her family in a small town on an inlet of Lake Michigan.
Learn more at Lynne Rae Perkins’ official website.