John Steptoe was born in Brooklyn and studied art at the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan. His first book, Stevie, was published in its entirety in Life Magazine in 1969 when he was only 18 years old. People called Stevie “a new kind of book for black children” because of its realistic depiction of African American life. John hoped that his books would lead African American children to feel pride in themselves and their origins. After his death in 1989, the American Library Association established the John Steptoe Award for New Talent which honors new exceptional African American authors and illustrators. His son, Javaka Steptoe, followed in his father’s footsteps as an illustrator.