A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day

By: Andrea Davis Pinkney

Illustrator: Steve Johnson

Andrea Davis Pinkney’s lyrical narrative tells the inspiring story of a boy who pursued a dream, and who, in turn, inspired generations of other dreamers. Information about Ezra Jack Keats’s legacy. List of books written and illustrated by Keats. Sources. Full-color illustrations were rendered in acrylic, collage, and pencil, using images from The Snowy Day; Peter’s Chair; Hi, Cat; and Jennie’s Hat.

ISBN: 9780425287682

JLG Release: Mar 2017


Sensitive Areas: No sensitive areas
Topics: Ezra Jack Keats (1916–1983) , The Snowy Day , American authors and illustrators , Biography , Children’s literature , Authorship , Books and libraries , Social issues , Prejudice and racism

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Awards & Honors

Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2016, Picture Books
Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2016, Picture Books
NCTE Notable Poetry List 2017
Sydney Taylor Award, 2017 Silver Medalist
ALSC Notable Children’s Books 2017, Middle Readers
2017 Notable Books for a Global Society
The Nonfiction Detectives, 2016 Best Nonfiction Books for Children
2017 Capitol Choices, Seven to Ten
CSMCL Best Multicultural Books of 2016
Tablet Magazine Best Jewish Children’s Books of 2016, Picture Books
Children’s Literature Assembly, 2017 Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts Award

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Book List*, The Horn Book Magazine, Kirkus Reviews*, Publishers Weekly*, School Library Journal

School Library Journal

Pinkney dives into the life and work of Ezra Jack Keats, specifically focusing on The Snowy Day and his creation of the main character, Peter. Using poetry (what the author refers to as “collage verse”), mainly addressed to Peter, Pinkney pieces together Keats’s biography, tracing spots where early versions or hints of Pete Pinkney dives into the life and work of Ezra Jack Keats, specifically focusing on The Snowy Day and his creation of the main character, Peter. Using poetry (what the author refers to as “collage verse”), mainly addressed to Peter, Pinkney pieces together Keats’s biography, tracing spots where early versions or hints of Peter can be found, and reflects on what a monumental event the publication of the picture book was and still is. Students will learn about Keats’s early life, his tireless dedication to provide for his immigrant family, his love and pursuit of art, and how he changed his name from Jacob (Jack) Ezra Katz to Ezra Jack Keats to avoid anti-Semitism in the United States after World War II. Pinkney’s verse seamlessly weaves together story and fact to craft an intimate conversation about the artist’s history and impact. (“Brown-sugar child,/when you and your hue/burst onto the scene,/all of us came out to play.”) Readers familiar with Keats will notice allusions to his other works throughout. The illustrations complement the text, and Keats’s own style, by using mixed-media collages of prints, fabrics, photos, and paint, all of which capture the liveliness of the urban setting and historical points. This kindhearted telling ends with a discussion of the cultural importance of Peter and how Keats’s vision paved the way for authors and artists to look for and include children of color in their work. VERDICT This celebration of a visionary children’s book author and illustrator is a lovely addition for most collections.—Briana Moore, Elmont Memorial Library, NY

Horn Book

In lively verse, Pinkney presents a picture book biography of Ezra Jack Keats, creator of the children’s classic The Snowy Day (rev. 2/63). It’s also a love letter to Peter, Keats’s Snowy Day protagonist: “Long before you arrived, / little brownsugar child, he was born . . . / You and h In lively verse, Pinkney presents a picture book biography of Ezra Jack Keats, creator of the children’s classic The Snowy Day (rev. 2/63). It’s also a love letter to Peter, Keats’s Snowy Day protagonist: “Long before you arrived, / little brownsugar child, he was born . . . / You and he, / different, / but the same in so many ways.” Keats, born Jacob Ezra Katz in 1916, was the son of Jewish immigrants who fled Poland and settled in a poor neighborhood in Brooklyn. As a boy, Ezra had a job painting signs; he soon realized, with the help of his teachers and the library, that art was his calling. As a young man he painted murals for the WPA, worked as a comics artist, and created WWII posters before publishing his picture-book masterpiece. Pinkney highlights Keats’s attunement to issues of discrimination, poverty, and social justice (“Even though the world was living / in an age of color judgment, / you r color didn’t matter to Ezra”), so when Peter does emerge—“Brown-sugar boy in a blanket of white”—the resonances are immediate and cathartic. Fancher and Johnson, who, like Keats, are known for their collage illustrations, thoughtfully incorporate Snowy Day motifs and other images from Peter’s world along with photos and additional archival material; the color palette and textures, too, effectively pay homage to Keats’s work. Useful back matter includes notes (“Ezra’s Legacy,” “Keats, the Collage Poet”), a booklist, and other sources. elissa gershowitz

Book Details

ISBN

9780425287682

First Release

March 2017

Genre

Nonfic

Dewey Classification

Trim Size

9 1/2" x 10 1/2"

Page Count

60

Accelerated Reader

Level 3.8; Points: 0.5;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 0; Points: 0;

Lexile

Level 620L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Viking

Potentially Sensitive Areas

No sensitive areas

Topics

Ezra Jack Keats (1916–1983), The Snowy Day, American authors and illustrators, Biography, Children’s literature, Authorship, Books and libraries, Social issues, Prejudice and racism,

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