Don Freeman was born in San Diego, California, in 1908. After graduating high school and attending a summer course at San Diego School of Fine Arts, Don moved to New York, where he studied at the Art Students' League and developed a passion for theater. Don spent much of his time on Broadway and could often be found backstage, sketching actors and capturing everything that happened both on and off the stage in his sketchbook. He supported himself by playing his trumpet in a dance band, but after losing his trumpet on the subway Don decided to turn his attention to his sketches.
Don made a name for himself from his successful Broadway sketches and took his first step into children's literature when he was asked to illustrate for William Saroya. He quickly began writing and illustrating his own children's books, including Corduroy, A Pocket for Corduroy, and the Caldecott Honor Book Fly High, Fly Low. He collaborated frequently with his wife, Lydia, a fellow author and artist. Don died in 1978, and his wife went on to establish The Lydia Freeman Charitable Foundation. Learn more about Don's Life here.
©Brian Bowen Smith
Viola Davis is a critically revered, award-winning actress of film, television and theater. She is the first black actress to win Tony (Fences & King Hedley II), Oscar (Fences) and Emmy (How to Get Away with Murder) awards. Davis is currently starring in the fourth season of "How to Get Away with Murder," a role for which she became the first African American actress to receive the Emmy Award for "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series." In 2012, Davis and her husband founded their production company, JuVee Productions, with its focus being on giving a voice to the voiceless through strong, impactful and culturally relevant narratives.
Jody Wheeler illustrates new Corduroy books in the spirit of Don’s beloved style. She developed a greater than average interest in children’s books at an early age, having been influenced by her great aunt Opal Wheeler, a prolific writer of books for young readers in the 1950’s. She worked as a design assistant at The Dial Press juvenile books division in Manhattan for two years before establishing her own freelance illustration business. Since then she has enjoyed working on a variety of projects ranging from picture books to educational texts, magazines, greeting cards and licensed characters and has illustrated over 60 books.
B. G. Hennessy has written many of the Corduroy books published since 1978. She and Don Freeman first met when she was his art director for A POCKET FOR CORDUROY. She says, "Getting to know Don was a journey. We became friends over the back and forth of sketches, samples, black line drawings, blue-boards, typesetting, design, and finally, finished artwork. I remember Don as a careful artist with an exquisite eye, and as a superlative storyteller, both on and off the page. His "Corduroy World" has been a wonderful place to spend so much of my writing time." B. G. Hennessy is the author of over 35 children's books with over four million copies in print. More information on her books can be found at http://bghennessy.com.
Lisa McCue is internationally acclaimed illustrator / author illustrator of more than 175 books for children, including the novelty books for our beloved Corduroy bear. Her charming characters have become well known to an entire generation of children and their parents though her charming children’s book illustrations, greeting cards, Fabrics, gift tins, wrapping paper, clothing, plush toys, and other licensed merchandise. For inspiration, Lisa turns to the everyday- from her neighborhood, pets, and children, to local streets, schools and parks, to the view from her studio window overlooking the Chesapeake Bay- and imparts it with her unique style. For Lisa, it’s the joy that others take in her work that makes illustrating so rewarding, especially children who enjoy her books.