Building a Multi-Ethnic Children’s Library – Ezra Jack Keats – Plus Complaints About Weather
It is April 22, and here in Saint Paul we are in the middle of a snowstorm – we are expected to get 2-4 inches tonight. This is the third snow storm in a week and even Minnesota has had enough. There is a warning out to stay off the roads unless necessary and both Richard and I had our events for the evening cancelled. We’re ready for tulips, daffodils, lilacs and temperatures in the 50s or 60s.
In honor of our never ending winter here in the Twin Cities I’m highlighting The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.
The Snow Day by Ezra Jack Keats, was the first full color children’s book to feature a black protagonist. I assumed that Ezra Jack Keats was an African American man. Keats’ work features lots of urban kids of color, the illustrations are filled with beautiful images in paint and collage. The Jewish Museum in New York (where it is currently 47 degrees and partly cloudy) did an exhibition on Keats which is now touring the country (currently in Akron – where it is currently 56 degrees and clear).
I picked up a copy of The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats (Jewish Museum) from our library and was surprised to learn that Ezra Jack Keats was the child of European Jewish Immigrants. He was born Jacob Ezra Katz. The essays in this book about Keats’ life and work are incredibly interesting, and the samples of his art pieces and illustrations are gorgeous.
I picked up a big book copy of another of Keats’ popular books Pet Show! These books and others by Keats are reminders of my childhood, but reading them as an adult I am struck by the quality of art that is in Keats’ illustrations.