Ezra Jack Keats: Artist and Picture-Book Maker

Overview

Long before multicultural characters and themes were fashionable, Ezra Jack
Keats crossed social boundaries by being the first American picture-book maker to give the urban child a central place in children's literature. In
Ezra Jack Keats: Artist and Picture-Book Maker author Brian Alderson gives an account of the emergence and significance of Keats' books within the context of his life.
Alderson shows how ...

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Overview

Long before multicultural characters and themes were fashionable, Ezra Jack
Keats crossed social boundaries by being the first American picture-book maker to give the urban child a central place in children's literature. In
Ezra Jack Keats: Artist and Picture-Book Maker author Brian Alderson gives an account of the emergence and significance of Keats' books within the context of his life.
Alderson shows how Keats' early ambitions were all towards fine art and were spurred on by his success as a schoolboy painter. But his career was always under threat from the depression, from the distractions of war service, and from all the financial difficulties that are the regular lot of practicing artists. Despite a spell of study in Paris, Keats eventually gravitated into commercial art and then—to his own surprise—discovered that he was a children's book illustrator.
In describing this career, and in analyzing the great picture books of Keats'
maturity, Brian Alderson has drawn upon recollections of those who knew him and upon the large archive of his works held at the de Grummond Collection of the
University of Southern Mississippi. This has allowed an insight not only into
Keats' character, but also into his working life: everything from his obsessive contract negotiations to his struggles in perfecting both his books and the way in which they were presented to the public.
In its mixture of sadness and joy, Keats' life brought him very close to the children for whom he —as an ex-kid —had such affinity. This book is the fourth in a Pelican series featuring America's greatest children's illustrators and authors including Jessie Willcox Smith, Johnny Gruelle, and
Kate Greenaway.
Brian Alderson is an international authority in the field of children's literature. He has written, edited, and translated stories for children; he has organized exhibitions in Britain and the U.S. on aspects of the subject; and as children's books reviewer of The Times of London, he has the continuing experience of reading and reviewing contemporary children's books. For more than twenty years he lectured in children's literature at what is now the
University of North London, where he also organized courses for the British
Studies program of the University of Southern Mississippi.

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Editorial Reviews

Carolyn Phelan
Wide-ranging and quite readable, Alderson's study of Keats includes biographical information but focuses on his training and development as an artist and a creator of picture books. Beginning with an account of Keats' life and a memoir by a close friend, the book traces the artist's training in school, his mural painting for the WPA., his early work drawing portions of Captain Marvel comics, his sojourn in Paris, his paintings, and his book illustrations. Alderson emphasizes the artist's development of the picture-book form and the evolution of individual books as Keats worked on them; he offers a behind-the-scenes perspective on the creation of picture books that is rarely found, even in books about illustrators. Full-color reproductions of paintings, drawings, sketches, picture book dummies, collages, and photographs appear throughout the book.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565540064
  • Publisher: Pelican Publishing Company, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/28/1994
  • Series: Book Illustrators Series
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 8.75 (w) x 11.32 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Brian Alderson is an international authority in the field of children's literature. His research interests lie in the history of children's books and of book illustration. He is editor and translator of a number of classic children's literary works, and for his contribution to the genre, he won the Eleanor Farjeon Award. As children's books editor for The Times of London, he is actively involved in the criticism of children's literature. He has lectured on children's literature at what is now the University of North London, where he became involved in the British Studies Program of the University of Southern Mississippi. The University of Southern Mississippi's de Grummond Collection is the sole repository for the Ezra Jack Keats archive. Holdings include manuscripts, typescripts, sketches, dummies, illustrations, and proofs for 37 books written and/or illustrated by Keats. Also included are his personal papers, personal and professional correspondence, fan mail and artwork from children, photographs, and childhood memorabilia.

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