Tony Chen was born of Chinese parents in Kingston, Jamaica on January 3, 1929. Arriving in the United States in 1949, he attended the Art Career School from 1949 to 1951 and received a B. F. A. with honors from Pratt Institute in 1955. He married Pura de Castro in 1957, and they have two sons. After several jobs as a graphic designer and illustrator, Chen served as Art Director for Newsweek from 1961 to 1972 and was Art Instructor at Nassau Community College in Garden City, New York from 1972 to 1973. He illustrated his first children's book, Too Many Crackers, in 1962. In addition to his work as a writer and illustrator of children's books, Chen is a painter and sculptor who has exhibited his work in various galleries in New York City. Chen also writes poems, one of which, "A Question," was published in an anthology of American poetry called Timeless Voices opposite a poem by Carl Sandburg.
Chen's interest in drawing and painting began when he was six years old and his uncle gave him a set of water colors. This interest was kept alive by his next door neighbor, a handicapped boy, who was also an artist. As a Boy Scout, Chen was troop artist and began drawing animals and landscapes, subjects he still paints today. Having illustrated more than twenty 20 books, he believes that the American people should discover art in order to develop self-discipline and to cultivate inner peace. He believes that one who appreciates art has reverence both for life and for the achievement of mankind, past and present.
Chen has received numerous honors and awards including the Children's Book Showcase in 1972 for Honschi and in 1976 for About Owls. He won the Jane Addams Award for The Princess and the Admiral in 1975.
Children's Literature Awards and Winners: A Directory of Prizes,