Princess Ozma
See all our Birthday cards here!

May is a month of blooming flowers and new beginnings, and it is also the birth month of many famous illustrators! From beloved children's book authors to renowned artists, these illustrators have left a lasting impact on the world of illustration. Take a closer look with us at the lives and works of some of the most prominent illustrators born in May.

Leo Lionni (May 5, 1910 – October 11, 1999) was an Italian-American author and illustrator, best known for his children's books. Born in Amsterdam, Lionni immigrated to the United States in the 1930s, where he began a successful career as an art director for several advertising agencies. He later turned to children's book illustration and writing, publishing over 40 books during his career. His most famous works include Swimmy, Frederick, Inch by Inch, and Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse. Lionni's illustrations are characterized by their use of simple shapes and bright colors.

Leo Lionni - Illustrator Born in May
Frederick is one of the four books by Lionni to be a Caldecott Honor Winner!


William Pene Du Bois (May 9, 1916 – February 5, 1993) was an American author, illustrator, and designer. Born in New Jersey, Du Bois studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and later worked as an industrial designer. He also illustrated and wrote several books, including The Twenty-One Balloons, which won the Newbery Medal in 1948. Du Bois' illustrations are known for their intricate detail and whimsical style.

William Pene du Bois -  - Illustrator Born in May
This illustration in pen and ink wash from The Twenty-One Balloons is part of the tale of a fabulous voyage around the world in a hot-air balloon! 


Edward Lear (May 12, 1812 – January 29, 1888) was an English artist, author, and poet, best known for his nonsense poetry and limericks. Born in London, Lear began his career as an artist and illustrator, working on natural history and landscape paintings. He later turned to writing, publishing several volumes of poetry and prose. Lear's illustrations are known for their whimsical style and use of bold colors.

Edward Lear -  - Illustrator Born in May
Edward Lear’s The Book of Nonsense featured showcased his original drawings and silly verses.
Weird & Wonderful Anthology
It’s no surprise that Edward Lear’s work makes an appearance in our collection of charmingly bizarre illustrations!
See our Weird & Wonderful Gift Book here


    Frank Baum (May 15, 1856 – May 6, 1919) was an American author, best known for his creation of the "Wizard of Oz" series. Born in Chittenango, New York, Baum worked as a journalist and editor before turning to writing children's books. His most famous work, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was published in 1900 and has since become a beloved classic. Baum's illustrations for The Wizard of Oz are as iconic as the story itself, depicting the fantastical world of Oz and its many inhabitants.

    Map of the Marvelous Land of Oz
    This map of the Marvelous Land of Oz was illustrated by Professor H. M. Wogglebug, T. E. (Highly Magnified and Thoroughly Educated) in 1914. It’s one of many Oz images in our catalog!
    See all our Land of Oz illustrations here!

      Boyd Smith (May 17, 1860 – October 5, 1943) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was an illustrator and author, best known for his illustrations in the Uncle Remus stories by Joel Chandler Harris. Smith's work was characterized by his attention to detail and his ability to capture the spirit of the American South. In addition to his illustrations, Smith also wrote and illustrated his own books, including The Story of Pocahontas and The Story of Virginia.

      Boyd Smith Illustration
       E. Boyd Smith is known best for his illustrations relating to the American South and stories from the Bible, but we want to highlight his dinosaurs! This image is from his book So Long Ago.


        Albrecht Dürer (May 21, 1471 - April 6, 1528) was born in Nuremberg, Germany. He is considered one of the greatest artists of the Northern Renaissance and is known for his woodcuts and engravings. His most famous works include Adam and Eve, Death and the Devil, and Melencolia I. Dürer's work had a profound influence on printmaking and art in general, and he is regarded as one of the most important figures of the German Renaissance.

        Durer - The Knight
        Can you believe the level of detail Dürer accomplished in his engraving of Knight, Death, and the Devil?
          Durer - The Rabbit
          Quite different in style, but equally as impressive is Dürer’s Young Hare in watercolor and body color (gouache).

            Arnold Lobel (May 22, 1933 – December 4, 1987) was born in Los Angeles, California. He is best known for his children's books, particularly the Frog and Toad series, which won him the Caldecott Medal in 1971. Lobel's work is characterized by his whimsical illustrations, which often feature anthropomorphic animals and nature scenes. In addition to his own books, Lobel also illustrated works by other authors, including Mouse Soup and The Owl and the Pussycat.

            Arnold Label - Frog and Toad
            We all can agree that one of the sweetest relationships in all of children's literature is the one between Frog and Toad!


              Margaret Wise Brown (May 23, 1910 – November 13, 1952) in Brooklyn, New York. She is known for her contributions to children's literature, having authored over 100 books during her career. Her most famous work is Goodnight Moon, which has sold millions of copies since its publication in 1947. Brown's writing often focused on the natural world and the joys of childhood, and her work has had a lasting impact on the genre of children's literature.

              Margaret Wise Brown - Runaway Bunny
              Bunnies are very cozy and happy in the worlds depicted in Margaret Wise Brown’s Runaway Bunny and Goodnight Moon!


              Born in Vienna, Austria, Lisbeth Zwerger (May 26, 1954) is an acclaimed children's book illustrator known for her distinctive style and ability to capture the essence of a story. Zwerger has illustrated over 50 books throughout her career, including The Gift of the Magi, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and The Wizard of Oz. Her illustrations are characterized by a softness and simplicity that evoke a sense of nostalgia and wonder. Zwerger uses a muted color palette and delicate lines to create intricate and dreamlike scenes that transport readers to fantastical worlds. She has won numerous awards for her work, including the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1990.

              Lisbeth Zwerger
              Modern takes on classic tales! This striking image is from Tales from the Brothers Grimm, selected and illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger.

                Heath Robinson (May 31, 1872 – September 13, 1944) was born in London, England. He was an illustrator and cartoonist, known for his whimsical and detailed drawings. Robinson's work often featured elaborate contraptions and machines, earning him the nickname "the Gadget King." His illustrations were featured in many publications, including Punch magazine, and he also illustrated books such as The Water Babies and The Adventures of Uncle Lubin.

                Big Banquet - Celebration Greeting Card
                 Don’t you want to attend this W. Heath Robinson-illustrated party?
                See The Big Banquet as a greeting card here!

                  In conclusion, the month of May has given birth to a diverse group of illustrators, each with their unique style and contribution to the world of art. From Leo Lionni's playful collages to Lisbeth Zwerger's dreamy watercolors, their works continue to inspire and delight people of all ages. What better way to celebrate their legacies than by sending a thoughtful birthday card featuring their illustrations? At Laughing Elephant, we offer a wide range of birthday cards featuring the works of these talented illustrators and more. Browse our collection and add a personal touch to your loved ones' special day.

                  See all our Birthday Cards here!

                  May 22, 2023 — Allison Frey

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