Author of children's books that focus on the African-American experience. The 2009 recipient of The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, he is most famous for works such as Dancing Granny and Beautiful Blackbird.
Before fighting in World War II, he studied at the Cooper Union Art School. After returning from the war, he studied philosophy at Columbia University.
He taught in the art departments of Dartmouth College, Lafayette College, and Queen's College.
Born and raised in New York City, he grew up with six brothers and sisters and three cousins.
He was the United States nominee for the 2006 Hans Christian Andersen Award.