William Pène du Bois (1916-1993) was an American author and illustrator who is perhaps best known for his Newbury-winning novel, “Twenty-One Balloons (1947)”, an adventure about the eruption of Krakatoa. However, he wrote and illustrated a number of other books that brought him acclaim. “Bear Party” and “Lion” won him Caldecott honors, and his beloved “Otto” series about a huge dog, have been enduringly popular and undoubtedly influenced the “Clifford” series about a big yellow dog. “Gentleman Bear” (1985), about a man and his teddy-bear companion, has always seemed delightfully autobiographical to me.
His parents were Guy Pène du Bois, the famed painter, art critic, and teacher, and Florence Sherman, a fashion designer for children’s clothing. William’s older sister Yvonne became a painter, and their cousin Margot Tomes became a children’s book illustrator. Raoul Pène du Bois, another cousin, became a prolific costume and set designer for the theater, crafting materials for Broadway productions such as "Doctor Jazz" (1975) and "Sugar Babies" (1979).