Ted Lewin grew up in an old frame house in Buffalo, New York, with two brothers, one sister, two parents, a lion, an iguana, a chimpanzee, and an assortment of more conventional pets. The lion was given to his older brother, Don, while he was traveling as a professional wrestler, and he shipped it home. The family kept Sheba in the basement fruit cellar until Don returned and their mother convinced him to give it to the Buffalo zoo.
Ted always knew he wanted to be an illustrator. As a child he copied the work of illustrators and painters he admired, including N.C. Wyeth, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Velázquez, and Goya. When it came time to go to art school (Pratt), he needed to earn money to finance his education. So, following in his brother’s footsteps, he took a summer job as a wrestler—the beginning of a 15-year part-time career that eventually inspired his autobiographical book I Was a Teenage Professional Wrestler.
Ted’s career as an artist began with illustrations for adventure magazines, and it’s only over the last several years that he has devoted his time to writing and illustrating children’s books. “I’m having more fun doing this than anything I’ve ever done before,” he says. He is an avid traveler, and many of his books are inspired by trips to such places as the Amazon River, the Sahara Desert, Botswana, Egypt, Lapland, and India.
Ted and his wife Betsy live in Brooklyn, New York, where they share their home with two cats, Slick and Chopper.