Although Leo Lionni is a popular author and illustrator of picture books, many people are surprised to find that he did not write his first book until he was a grandfather. Lionni and his family lived in many different places during his childhood including Brussels, Philadelphia, and Genoa. He attended the University of Zurich and married Nora Maffi. In 1939 he, his wife, and their two children moved to Philadelphia where Lionni worked for an advertising agency and was also the head of the graphics design department of the Parsons School of Design. In 1959, at age 50, he returned to Italy. His first picture book, LITTLE BLUE AND LITTLE YELLOW was originally created as a story to amuse his grandchildren during a tedious train ride. SWIMMY, one of Lionni's personal favorites, was a Caldecott Honor Book in 1964.