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Ezra Jack Keats

We live in a place with very little diversity, with the exception of some Latino folks, and it's important for my children to know that Jesus loves people of all nationalities and cultures. He will have a multitude from every tribe, tongue, and nation as His people.

So I like to expose my children to books that don't only have white Americans as their main characters.That's why I like Ezra Jack Keats, who won a Caldecott Award for his picture book, The Snowy Day, which features a little African American boy named Peter.

The Ezra Jack Keats foundation website explains how the idea for books about Peter were born:

"In the two years that followed, Keats worked on a book featuring a little boy named Peter. An article Keats had clipped from Life magazine in 1940 inspired Peter. “Then began an experience that turned my life around—working on a book with a black kid as hero. None of the manuscripts I’d been illustrating featured any black kids—except for token blacks in the background. My book would have him there simply because he should have been there all along. Years before I had cut from a magazine a strip of photos of a little black boy. I often put them on my studio walls before I’d begun to illustrate children’s books. I just loved looking at him. This was the child who would be the hero of my book.

"The book featuring Peter, The Snowy Day, received the prestigious Caldecott Award for the most distinguished picture book for children in 1963. Peter appears in six more books growing from a small boy in The Snowy Day to adolescence in Pet Show.

"In the books that Keats wrote and illustrated, he used his special artistic techniques to portray his subjects in a unique manner. One of these was his blending of gouache with collage. Gouache is an opaque watercolor mixed with a gum that produces an oil-like glaze.

"The characters in Keats’ books come from the community around him. Many of his stories illustrate family life, the simple pleasures and more complex problems, that a child often encounters in his daily routine. To create his books, Keats drew upon his own childhood experiences, from having to flee from bullies to taking a ribbing from his pals for liking girls. But these are also the experiences of almost all children growing up in neighborhoods and communities in many parts of the world. This commonality explains the continuing popularity of Keats’ books and characters."

We've checked out every Keats book we can get our hands on. I love the pictures and that little boy is just adorable.


I love Ezra Jack Keats!

June 23, 2007 at 12:28 PM  

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