Jan Pienkowski was born in Warsaw in 1936. His family were architects and artists. He made his first book when he was 8, as a present for his father. It was all about road rage - but featuring a horse and cart. The war made his childhood an adventure, if not a very comfortable one at times, taking him from Poland to Austria, Germany, Italy and finally bringing him in 1946 to England. With his parents, he came to Herefordshire, where he had two new experiences - going to school for the first time and learning English. Later, he went to The Cardinal Vaughan School in London and then to King's College, Cambridge, where he read Classics and English - and managed to find time for a lot of posters and stage design.
He co-founded the greetings card company, Gallery Five. He worked in advertising, publishing, and doing graphics for the BBC children's TV series Watch! In his spare time, he started to illustrate books for children. The books took over. He won the Library Association Kate Greenaway Medal in 1972 for his silhouette illustrations to Joan Aiken's The Kingdom Under The Sea and again in 1980 for Haunted House. He was to use his silhouette technique to dramatic effect in other books like the Fairytale Library.
Jan pioneered the modern Pop-up book with Haunted House (subsequently on CD-Rom), Robot, Dinner Time, Good Night and 17 others. Christmas Kingdom, Phone Book and Door Bell added sound effects while Botticelli's Bed and Breakfast capers irreverently through the history of western art.
MEG & MOG, the much loved series of books which Jan created with Helen Nicoll, has reached 16 titles. Four of them became the MEG & MOG Show, exuberantly staged by David Wood and designed for the West End by Jan. MEG & MOG has recently been created into an animated television series for CITV, directed by Roger Mainwood and featuring the voices of Fay Ripley as Meg, Alan Bennet as Owl and Phil Cornwall as Mog.