Born: November 7, 1944
Ohio connection: Birth
Having won many design awards from professional organizations for his books, periodical work, and exhibitions, Jan Adkins cites his favorite job as writing nonfiction for young people, and feels his calling is that of an explainer. Born in Gallipolis and raised across the river in Wheeling, West Virginia, Adkins first studied architecture at The Ohio State University but switched to English literature and creative writing. He has worked for an architectural firm, National Geographic magazine, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Maryland Institute College of Art. He has written scripts and treatments for the Discovery Channel, NOVA, and the BBC and is a consultant to art museums, zoos, and natural history and science museums. As an author and illustrator, Adkins is inspired by his own curiosity and desire to learn about various subjects and his enthusiasm for sharing that knowledge with others. From his first book, The Art and Industry of Sandcastles: Being an Illustrated Guide to Basic Constructions along with Divers Information (1971) to String: Tying it Up, Tying it Down (1992), Adkins brings a combination of detailed drawing, clear explanation, and novelty to his wide range of topics and is consistently praised by reviewers. His fiction titles include: Luther Tarbox (1977) for children; A Storm Without Rain (1983), a young adult novel and his favorite book; and an adult mystery, Deadline for Final Art (1990). Adkins has a daughter, a son, and a stepson and lives on a horse ranch in Novato, California.
Brooklyn Museum Art citations, 1972, 1973, and 1974; Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, University of Wisconsin, and National Book Award nomination, both 1972, for The Art and Industry of Sand Castles; Children's Book Showcase awards, Children's Book Council, 1974, for Toolchest, and 1976, for Inside: Seeing Beneath the Surface; Children's Science Book Award, New York Academy of Sciences, 1981, for Moving Heavy Things. Many additional awards are listed on the author's web site.