Jerry Craft is an author and illustrator who has worked on numerous picture books, graphic novels, and middle grade novels. His newest book, »New Kid« (2019), is a middle grade graphic novel that has earned five starred reviews, »Kirkus Reviews« called it »An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America.« It became the first graphic novel to win the Kirkus Prize in the »Young Readers’ Literature« category. In 2020, it won the John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature. It is the first graphic novel in the Newbery’s nearly 100-year history to receive the award. Craft is only the fifth African-American author to land the coveted prize. It was also awarded the Coretta Scott King award for an outstanding work by an African American writer. Craft is the second person to have simultaneously won both awards in the same year.
In 2014, Craft earned recognition from the Junior Library Guild for illustrating »The Zero Degree Zombie Zone«, written by Patrik Henry Bass. His middle grade novel, which he co-wrote with his two sons Jaylen and Aren Craft, »The Offenders: Saving the World While Serving Detention!«, is an action/adventure story designed to teach kids about the negative effects of bullying. It was chosen by pacer.org as one of the best middle grade books on bullying. Craft’s illustrations have also appeared in national publications such as »Essence« magazine as well as comic books, greeting cards, book covers, and board games. Craft is also the creator of »Mama’s Boyz«, an award-winning comic strip that was distributed by King Features Syndicate from 1995 to 2013; making him one of the few syndicated African-American cartoonists in the US. »Mama’s Boyz« follows the lives of Pauline Porter, a widow, and her two teenage sons, whom she raises while also running the family bookstore. Craft has won five African American Literary Award Show Open Book Awards for »best comic strip« (2013, 2012, 2011, 2009, and 2004).
Craft was born in Harlem and grew up in nearby Washington Heights. He is a graduate of The Fieldston School and received his B.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts. After working in the ad world for a dozen years as a copywriter, he got his first job as a cartoonist working as an assistant to Barbara Slate on a variety of comic books and graphic novels for Marvel and Harvey Comics. This was followed by eight years at King Features Syndicate, where he wrote sales brochures for some of the world’s most popular comic strips. Before stepping out on his own, he was the Editorial Director for the »Sports Illustrated for Kids« website where he was nominated for a New Media Award by the National Cartoonists Society for his series of popular Flash cartoons. He is a co-founder and co-producer of the Schomburg’s Annual Black Comic Book Festival.
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