Symeon Shimin was born in Astrakhan, Russia, on the Caspian Sea, in 1902. His family immigrated to the United States ten years later, living in two small rooms behind their delicatessen. Already interested in drawing for a living, Shimin apprenticed himself to a commercial artist at age 16 to help support his family. He attended art classes at Cooper Union Art School at night. In 1929, after working as a freelance commercial artist and briefly studying in the studio of artist George Luks, Shimin spent a year and a half in France and Spain. He returned to New York and in 1938 was awarded a contract to paint a mural in the Department of Justice building in Washington. Shimin's work in children's books began in 1950 when friends Hermann and Nina Scheider asked him to illustrate a revised edition of their How Big is Big? Shimin subsequently illustrated more than 50 books for children, including two that he also authored. He died in 1984.