Children's book illustrator Jill McElmurry died on August 3. She was 62 and had breast cancer.
McElmurry began her career working for 20 years as an editorial illustrator, creating art for magazines, book covers, posters and design projects in the U.S. and Germany. She then turned her attention to children's books, fulfilling her dream of being an author and illustrator. Her first book, Mad About Plaid, was published in 2000. McElmurry went on to illustrate more than 20 picture books, four of which she also wrote.
She illustrated Joseph Hopkins's The Tree Lady (Beach Lane, 2013), which won the California Library Association's Beatty Award in 2014. Her best-known work may be the Little Blue Truck series, written by Alice Schertle, which has been translated into 10 languages. Little Blue Truck's Springtime will be published in January 2018.
"Jill brought joy and goodwill to countless children through her gorgeous illustrations which brimmed with life," Catherine Onder, senior v-p and publisher, HMH Books for Young Readers, said. "It's impossible not to be moved by the exuberance and heart in each of her books. She will be missed tremendously."
McElmurry's longtime agent Marcia Wernick said, "Jill was dedicated to getting it right. She wasn't afraid to stick to her guns when she thought she had delivered the best illustration she could, but she was always willing to work with publishers to make changes to improve the books she worked on."
McElmurry grew up in Taos, N.Mex., in the presence of many artists, including her grandfather, painter and Gallery A co-founder Mario Larrinaga. As an adult, she spent part of every year in Taos, and in her last decade, she painted New Mexican (and later Northern Minnesotan) landscapes, selling more than 60 paintings through the Mission Gallery in Taos.