Children's book illustrator Leo Dillon dead at 79

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Leo Dillon, the groundbreaking illustrator who became the first African-American to win the Caldecott Medal for children's books, has died in New York at 79.

Publisher Scholastic Inc. announced Wednesday that Dillon died May 26 at Long Island College Hospital from complications after lung surgery.

Dillon and his wife and fellow illustrator, Diane Dillon, collaborated on a wide range of children's projects that helped introduce kids of all races to stories of black people worldwide. They won the Caldecott for best illustration in 1976 for "Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Folktale." They won a Caldecott the following year for "Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions."

The interracial couple worked on more than 40 books together. A new work, "If Kids Ran the World," is scheduled for 2014.

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