The author and illustrator of the beloved picture book series of Frog and Toad, Arnold Stark Lobel was born in Los Angeles in 1933. As a young child, Lobel moved to Schenectady, New York, where he was raised. When his parents divorced, he was sent to live with his grandparents who were German Jewish immigrants. Arnold Lobel was a sickly boy who was often bullied at school. He tended to keep himself occupied with drawings, which mostly consisted of animals. In fact, he used his drawings and wild storytelling abilities to befriend other children. It is believed that the Frog and Toad series was based on these early childhood experiences. He described himself as a sad child who often took refuge in the local library. He particularly enjoyed picture books; he found them “capable of suggesting everything that is good about feeling well and having positive thoughts about being alive.”
After graduating high school, Lobel attended the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn to pursue a degree in fine arts. He intended to focus his education in developing his skill and passion for illustration. During his time at the institute, he met his future wife, Anita; a talented illustrator. They married and settled in Brooklyn in an apartment right across the street from the Park Zoo, where they worked side by side on their own projects and collaborations. They had two children and would go to the Park Zoo often. The animals at the zoo provided the inspiration of his first book, A Zoo for Mister Muster (1962). Lobel did not get his first real break until 1971, when his book Frog and Toad earned the Caldecott Honor. An editor convinced Lobel to try his hand at writing “early readers,” a book made popular by Dr. Seuss. The inspiration for using a frog and toad as the protagonists for the series derived from his childhood summer memories in Vermont; where he was allowed to adopt frogs and toads as pets. In 1981, he won the Caldecott Medal for most distinguished picture book of the year Fables, which is a morally instructive book that he wrote and illustrated.
Arnold Lobel would go on to write a myriad of books. He was naturally an artist and writing came much harder to him. In an interview in 1979 he claimed, “Writing is very painful to me. I have to force myself not to think in visual terms, because I know if I start to think of pictures, I’ll cop out on the text.” This is possibly why picture books came so natural to him. He was known to be a daydreamer instead of an author or an artist. He would imagine the pictures in his head before he could think of the words that would go with them. Lobel died in 1987 due to cardiac arrest at the age of 54 years old. By the end of his years he had illustrated or written nearly 100 books. He left behind his wife, daughter Adrianne, and son Adam.
“Arnold Lobel.” Arnold Lobel. Web. 06 Feb. 2016. <http://www.parents-choice.org/article.cfm?art_id=35>.
“Featured Author and Illustrator: Arnold Lobel.” Arnold Lobel Classroom Author Study. Web. 05 Feb. 2016. <http://www.carolhurst.com/authors/alobel.html>.
Silvers, Emma. “‘Frog and Toad and the World of Arnold Lobel'” ‘Frog and Toad and the World of Arnold Lobel’. 21 Nov. 2013. Web. 06 Feb. 2016. <http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/70200/frog-and-toad-and-the-world-of-arnold-lobel/>.
Stout, Hilary. “Arnold Lobel, Author-Illustrator.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 1987. Web. 05 Feb. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/1987/12/06/obituaries/arnold-lobel-author-illustrator.html>.