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Children's Literature Collection


Pat Cummings' father was in the United States Army when she was growing up, which meant that the family was often transferred from city to city and country to country. She was born in Chicago in 1950 but soon moved to Virginia and, by the time she was five, the family had relocated to Germany. They later spent time in Okinawa before Cummings returned to the United States. Cummings had artistic inclinations from a very early age and remembers drawing pictures of ballerinas that she would "sell" for nickels and dimes or chocolate bars. Her parents encouraged her artistic endeavors with moral support and a ready supply of paint and brushes. She studied art at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and the Atlanta School of Art. Shortly after her graduation from Pratt in 1974, Cummings was commissioned to create posters for the Billie Holiday Theatre for Little Folk.

She received her first opportunity to illustrate a children's book when an editor at Coward McCann was impressed with her work that was featured in a publication distributed by the Council on Interracial Books for Children. Her first assignment was to illustrate Eloise Greenfield's Good News. Feeling completely overwhelmed, she drew upon the influence of her circle of friends to set up an appointment with fellow illustrator Tom Feelings. He generously provided the practical and technical information necessary to survive in the publishing industry. Cummings is still indebted to him and tries to help other beginning artists.

Since her first book in 1977, Cummings has continued to illustrate the books of outstanding writers such as Mildred Pitts Walter, Nikki Grimes, Mary Stolz, Angela S. Medearis, and Joyce Durham Barrett. In 1985, she wrote and illustrated her first book, Jimmy Lee Did It. Since that time, she has written and illustrated a number of other titles for children, including C.L.O.U.D.S.; Carousel; Clean Your Room, Harvey Moon; The Blue Lake; Dear Mabel!; and My Aunt Came Back. In addition, she has written a three-volume study of children's literature artists titled Talking with Artists. In these volumes, distinguished picture book artists talk about their early art experiences, answer questions most frequently asked by children, and offer encouragement to aspiring artists. A similar volume about adventurers, coedited with her sister Linda, was released in 1998.

Cummings is also involved in teaching children's book illustration at the Parsons School of Design. She has taught advertising design and illustration and cotaught a class with Nicholosa Mohr on writing for children. She loves to share her knowledge of drawing and writing and finds the interaction with the students to be very stimulating.

Pat Cummings' work has received critical acclaim and has been honored by a number of organizations. She received the Coretta Scott King Award in 1984 for her illustrations in My Mama Needs Me, an Honorable Mention for the King Award in 1983 for Just Us Women, and again in 1987 for C.L.O.U.D.S. Her work has been exhibited at Black Enterprise Gallery in New York and the CRT Gallery in Hartford.

Cummings has two books scheduled for publication in 2000. Angel Baby is written and illustrated by Cummings, and Lulu's Birthday was written by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard. Cummings continues to do what she loves best, writing and illustrating for children, in the bright and airy spacious loft that she shares with her husband, Chuka Lee, and their cat, Cash.


The de Grummond Children's Literature Collection
Box 5148
Hattiesburg, MS 39406
(601) 266-4349
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