Leo Dillon and Ellen Levine

The children’s literature world again has lost well-loved figures. Leo Dillon, who was the first African-American illustrator to win the Caldecott Medal, and Ellen Levine, an award-winning writer who focused on social justice, history, and the immigrant and slave experiences, both died on May 26.

Leo Dillon and his wife, Diane, worked together to illustrate books. They won the Caldecott two years in a row–the only artists who did. Dillon won numerous awards in addition to the Caldecotts. He and his wife were working on the art for a book, If Kids Ran the World, that will be published in 2014.

Ellen Levine worked as an attorney before she became a writer. Her books include the Caldecott Honor winner Henry’s Freedom Box, A Fence Away from Freedom, and Darkness Over Denmark. Each of these books told of a different group: slaves in the United States, Japanese-Americans interned during World WarII, and Jews in Denmark during World War II.

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