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Morrill, Leslie H(olt) 1934-2003

MORRILL, Leslie H(olt) 1934-2003


OBITUARY NOTICE See index for SATA sketch: Born February 10, 1934, in Hudson, NH; died of cancer June 23, 2003, in Washington, DC. Artist, educator, and illustrator. Morrill was an award-winning children's book illustrator. Originally contemplating becoming a dancer, he was talented in tap but decided not to make it his profession because the physically demanding career would likely not last long. Instead, he decided to focus on art and enrolled in the Boston Museum School of Art. His studies were interrupted by a stint in the Air Force during the mid-1950s, but then he returned to Boston and completed his certificate in 1960, as well as earning a B.S. in art education from Tufts University that same year. Morrill also attended graduate courses in art at the Cranbrook Academy in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He subsequently took a job as a public school art supervisor in Groton, Connecticut, for four years, followed by work as an assistant professor at Slippery Rock State College from 1967 to 1969. Deciding he needed to be more serious about being an artist, he quit his college position to work as a freelance book illustrator. Beginning with Anne Eliot Crompton's 1971 book, The Sorcerer, Morrill found great success in his new chosen occupation, and contributed illustrationsmostly to children's booksthroughout the 1970s, 1980s, and into the 1990s. His work appears in more than one hundred books, and he became especially well known for his animal illustrations. This talent, he later explained, likely came from his years as a child and teenager at Benson's Wild Animal Farm, an outdoor zoo near his home town where he worked with many wild and domestic animals. Morrill won countless prizes for his art, including two American Institute of Graphic Arts awards and numerous Children's Book of the Year citations from the Child Study Association of America. His illustrations accompany the text of such well-known children's authors as Eve Bunting, Matt Christopher, Kenneth Grahame, George Selden, Walter Dean Myers, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Judy Delton, and Mary Calhoun. He also illustrated the quirky "Bunnicula" series by James Howe and the Freddy books by Walter R. Brooks. In addition to his children's book illustrations, Morrill also created original art for puzzles, as well as pursuing a painting career.

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Washington Post, June 27, 2003, p. B7.

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