O. Zelinsky grew up in Wilmette, Illinois, the son of a mathematics professor father
and a medical illustrator mother. He drew compulsively from an early age, but did not
know until college that this would be his career. As a Sophomore in Yale College
he enrolled in a course on the history and practice of the picture book, co-taught
by an English professor and Maurice Sendak. This experience inspired Paul to
point himself in the direction of children's books. His first book appeared in
1978, since which time he has become recognized as one of the most inventive
and critically successful artists in the field.
He now lives with his wife in Brooklyn, New York. They have two grown daughters.
Among many other awards and prizes, he received the 1998 Caldecott Medal for his illustrated retelling of Rapunzel, as well as Caldecott Honors for three of his books: Hansel and Gretel (1985), Rumpelstiltskin (1987), and Swamp Angel (1995).
In 2018, Paul was given the Carle Honor Award for Illustration.