Happy Birthday, Mr. Keats!

Ezra Jack Keats has always been a favorite.  For me, his character Peter is a long-time friend.

Years ago, when I first read The Snowy Day and other books based on Peter, I had no idea just how significant these illustrations really were.  Later I learned that Ezra Jack Keats had broken new ground when The Snowy Day was published.

Inspired by a magazine strip of photos, Keats decided a young African-American boy would be the main character in his story.  This would be the first American children’s picture book with an African-American child as its central character.  In fact, The Snowy Day won the prestigious honor —The Caldecott Award–in 1963!

Ezra Jack Keats illustrated over 85 books and authored/illustrated 24 before his death in 1983.  So today, let’s honor Keats who used his extraordinary talents to change the world around him.

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