John Steptoe was an award-winning author and illustrator for childrenâ€™s books dealing with aspects of the African-American experience. He is best known for Mufaroâ€™s Beautiful Daughters, which was acknowledged by literary critics as a breakthrough in African history and culture.
John Steptoe was born in Brooklyn, New York. He began drawing as a young child and received formal art training at the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan. He also attended the Vermont Academy, where he studied under the sculptor John Torres, and William Mayors, a widely acclaimed painter. He began his first picture book, Stevie, when he was only 16 years old. Stevie was published three years later to outstanding critical praise. It received national attention when it appeared in its entirety in Life magazine, which commended it for being â€œa new kind of book for black children.â€