Children’s book author, illustrator, and designer Nonny Hogrogian, acclaimed for her vibrant woodcut and mixed-media artwork and twice awarded the Caldecott Medal, died May 9 in Holyoke, Mass., of cancer. She was 92.

May “Nonny” Hogrogian was born May 7, 1932, in the Bronx, N.Y., to Mugerdich Hogrogian, a photoengraver and Rachel (Ansoorian) Hogrogian, who did needlework, both Armenian immigrants. She grew up in a multigenerational household with her parents, sister, and grandparents, and it was there that an uncle first nicknamed her Nonny—the moniker she went by all her life.

Hogrogian wrote in her autobiography for Something About the Author that artistic talent ran in the family. Both of her parents sketched, while her father was also a painter, and her mother “could do almost anything with her hands and do it well,” including sewing and crocheting. As a result, Hogrogian said, “when I was about three or four years old, I began to putter with my father’s paints and brushes.” She also enjoyed poring over illustrated fairy tale and poetry books in her grandfather’s basement study.

As a shy child, Hogrogian spent lots of time drawing and realized her abilities when she could create imitations of the expressive faces and figures in Walt Disney comic books. During elementary and middle school, she used art “to please the teachers, to attract ‘friends,’ to have adults exclaim over me, and for my own amusement when I was alone.”

At Walton High School, Hogrogrian took painting and charcoal drawing lessons from an artist aunt and honed her skills in a Saturday illustration class for young people at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. She also did illustrations for her school magazine and hand-painted greeting cards.

Hogrogrian enrolled at Hunter College where she majored in art with an art history minor, earning a B.A. in 1953. After graduation, “I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I knew I needed to do artwork,” she wrote. While casting about for a job, an employment agency sent her on an interview for an open “girl Friday” position in the advertising department at William Morrow, and she brought her art portfolio. Even though she couldn’t type and lacked other secretarial skills, she interviewed well and landed a job. She soon learned how to do book jacket mechanicals, select type, and produce small ads, and occasionally was volunteering to do some jacket art.

After three years, at age 24, Hogrogian left Morrow and began graduate art studies at the New School for Social Research in 1957 where she studied with artist Antonio Frasconi, taking his course in woodcutting, a medium she quickly embraced. That summer, Hogrogian received a scholarship to attend the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine.

Once back in New York, Hogrogian landed a job as a production assistant and designer in the children’s book department at Thomas Y. Crowell Company. She was working there when Elizabeth Riley, head of the company’s juvenile division, offered her a contract to illustrate her first children’s book, King of the Kerry Fair by Nicolete Meredith (Crowell, 1960).

More book projects followed as Hogrogian joined Holt, Rinehart and Winston in 1961 as art director of the children’s book department. Editor Ann Durell paired Hogrogian with author Sorche Nic Leodhas for Gaelic Ghosts (Holt, 1963), a collection of supernatural stories, and the creative duo liked working together so much that they teamed up again for Always Room for One More (Holt, 1965), based on an old Scottish folk song. Hogrogian’s blend of woodcuts, watercolor, chalk, and pen-and-ink crosshatching for that title won her the first of her two Caldecott Medals, in 1966.

Hogrogian had frequently considered retiring from illustrating and publishing altogether, preferring to create art for pleasure. But winning the Caldecott changed her career dynamic, enabling her to illustrate fulltime. Among her many projects going forward was a book jacket for Homage to Adana (Gilligia Press, 1971), a collection by poet David Kherdian. When the two met at a reception, they hit it off and were married in 1971. That same year, Hogrogrian published the first book she both wrote and illustrated, One Fine Day (Macmillan). Her version of this Armenian barnyard cumulative tale received the 1972 Caldecott Medal. She additionally received a Caldecott Honor in 1977 for retelling The Contest: An Armenian Folktale (Greenwillow, 1976).

Hogrogrian’s body of work comprised more than 70 books including numerous collaborations with her husband. She said in her SATA autobiography postscript in 2001 that she “really” retired from illustrating children’s books in 1997, though she once again got the creative bug and wrote and illustrated The Tiger of Turkestan (Hampton Roads) in 2002. As explanation, she said, “[Retirement] indicates more a time in my life when I need to live as I really wish to live, and work is a large part of what I take joy in doing.”