Seven mouse boys lie awake one night... . . . And they ask their Papa to tell them a story. Papa does better than that -- he tells them seven stories, one for each boy.
During his distinguished career Arnold Lobel wrote and/or illustrated over 70 books for children. To his illustrating credit, he had a Caldecott Medal book -- Fables (1981) -- and two Caldecott Honor Books-his own Frog and Toad are Friends (1971) and Hildilid's Night by Cheli Duran Ryan (1972). To his writing credit, he had a Newbery Honor Book -- Frog and Toad Together (1973). But to his greatest credit, he had a following of literally millions of young children with whom he shared the warmth and humor of his unpretentious vision of life.
Though he was a born storyteller -- he began making up stories extemporaneously to entertain his fellow second-graders in Schenectady, New York, where he grew up in the care of his grandparents. Mr. Lobel called himself a "lucky amateur" in terms of his writing. Viewing himself as a professionally trained illustrator (he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Pratt Institute), he said, "I know how to draw pictures. With writing, I don't really know what I'm doing. It's very intuitive."
In addition to the Frog and Toad books, Owl at Home, Mouse Tales, The Book of Pigericks, and many other popular books he created, Mr. Lobel also illustrated other writers' texts that captured his fancy. He viewed this as "something different and challenging." Often his illustrations for those books showed a different aspect of his personality and his artistic expertise, ranging from his meticulous dinosaurs in Dinosaur Time by Peggy Parish to his chilling pen-and-ink drawings in Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep by Jack Prelutsky, about which Booklist wrote, "Young readers will be amazed that the gentle Lobel of Frog and Toad fame can be so comfortably diabolic."
In 1977 Mr. Lobel and his wife, Anita, a distinguished children's book author and artist in her own right, collaborated on their first book, How the Rooster Saved the Day, chosen by School Library Journal as one of the Best Books of the Year, 1977. They then collaborated on three more books, A Treeful of Pigs, a 1979 ALA Notable Book; On Market Street, a 1982 Caldecott Honor Book; and The Rose in My Garden, a 1984 Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Book.
Arnold Lobel died in 1987.