Gail Gibbons

Gail Gibbons is an American writer and illustrator of children's books, most of which are non-fiction. She started her career as a graphic artist for television, but transitioned to writing and designing children's books in the 1970s.

Gail Gibbons
Gail Jane Gibbons

(1944-11-24) November 24, 1944
OccupationWriter, Illustrator
Years active1959-P

Early Life

Gibbons was born in Oak Park, Illinois in 1944, and she was described as exhibiting "artistic talents at an early age."[1] She gained a reputation in school as an artist, eventually creating her own small books that she personally described as "writing and drawing pictures of what I loved and where I wanted to be." She often visited the Chicago Art Institute nearby which likely fueled her passion for art.[1] She studied graphic design at the University of Illinois. Gibbons herself quoted in the Something about the Author Autobiography Series, "I consider myself quite fortunate because I never had to debate with myself as to what I wanted to do with my life. The answer was always there. I wanted to be a writer and artist." Gibbons was inspired by one of her professors at the University of Illinois who was a professional children's book illustrator. [1]

When she was 21, she married Glenn Gibbons, and started her first job with a television station in Champaign, Illinois. She worked on children's show designing on-air graphics and set design. [1] Later, the couple moved to Chicago, and Gibbons continued her work with the TV station, WMAQ-TV while also picking up jobs in advertising. In 1969, she moved to New York City, worked for WNBC-TV, and ended up designing a few graphics for Saturday Night Live. In 1971, she became the graphic designer for Take a Giant Step, a children's television program on NBC.[1]

In 1972, Gail Gibbon's husband, Glenn, died in a car accident, which inevitably sparked her career. She submitted her first portfolio to an agent, who encouraged her to pursue a career in children's literature.


Gail Gibbons first book was Willy and His Wheel Wagon,[2] a 32-page self-illustrated picture book published by Prentice-Hall. By 1978, Gibbons had published 5 children's books, including Things to Make and Do for Halloween and Salvador and Mister Sam: A Guide to Parakeet Care. By 1979, Gibbons was pushed to publish solely non-fiction children's books, and she released Clocks and How They Go, which exhibits a more direct teaching style in writing.[1] Gibbons continued with this style of writing, growing into a prolific non-fiction children's book author and illustrator. Some of her books were even chosen as Reading Rainbow selections. Her most recent book was Planes, published in January 2019.


Source:[3] City Art Director Club award, 1979, for The Missing Maple Syrup Sap Mystery

  • American Institute of Graphic Arts award, 1979, for Clocks and How They Go
  • National Science Teachers Association/Children's Book Council Award, 1980, for Locks and Keys, and 1982, for Tool Book
  • Certificate of appreciation from U.S. Postmaster General, 1982, for The Post Office Book: Mail and How It Moves
  • American Library Association Notable Book citation, 1983, for Cars and How They Go, and 1985, for The Milk Makers
  • Washington Post/ Children's Book Guild Award, 1987, for contribution to nonfiction children's literature
  • National Council of Social Studies Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, 1983, 1987, 1989, 1990, and 1992
  • National Science Teachers Association Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children, 1983, 1987, 1991, 1998
  • International Reading Association Children's Choice Award, 1989, 1995; American Bookseller Pick of the Lists, 1992

Selected works

  • Willy and His Wheel Wagon (Prentice-Hall, 1975), self-illustrated
  • Salvador and Mister Sam: A Guide to Parakeet Care (P-H, 1975), self-illustrated
  • Behold ... the Dragons
  • Behold ... the Unicorns!
  • Farming
  • Fire! Fire!
  • Giant Pandas
  • How a House Is Built
  • Knights in Shining Armor
  • My Basketball Book
  • Penguins
  • Pigs
  • The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree (1984)
  • Tell Me, Tree: A Book About Trees for Kids
  • The Milk Makers
  • The Vegetables We Eat
  • The Reasons for Seasons
  • Emergency!
  • Catch the Wind!: All About Kites
  • Sunken Treasure
  • Department Store
  • Zoo
  • Beacons of Light: Lighthouses
  • Flying
  • Up Goes the Skyscraper
  • Country Fair
  • Click!: A book about cameras and taking pictures
  • How a house is built
  • Paper, Paper Everywhere
  • Exploring the deep, dark sea
  • Deadline!: From News to Newspaper
  • My Football Book
  • The Post Office Book: Mail and How it Moves
  • Fill It Up!
  • Weather Forecasting
  • Pottery Place
  • Playgrounds
  • My Basketball Book
  • Trains
  • The Reasons for Seasons
  • Caves and Caverns
  • Locks and Keys
  • The Milk Makers
  • The Honey Makers
  • Tunnels
  • Yippee-Yay!: A Book About Cowboys and Cowgirls
  • Sun Up, Sun Down
  • My Soccer Book


  1. "Gail (Gretchen) Gibbons (1944-) Biography - Personal, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Work in Progress, Sidelights". Retrieved 2019-04-23.
  2. Children's book author and illustrator, Gail Gibbon
  3. Gail Gibbons. Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2007. Literature Resource Center
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