Keats's Neighborhood: An Ezra Jack Keats Treasury

Overview

Ezra Jack Keats is widely acknowledged as one of the first people to feature realistic, friendly, multi-ethnic urban settings in his picture books-forever changing the landscape of children's literature in the process. Now this beautiful collection brings together nine of his best-loved stories, including the 1963 Caldecott Medal-winning book The Snowy Day and Caldecott Honor book Goggles!, plus Whistle for Willie, Peter's Chair, Apt. 3, and others. Also included is artwork from an unfinished picture book, The ...

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Overview

Ezra Jack Keats is widely acknowledged as one of the first people to feature realistic, friendly, multi-ethnic urban settings in his picture books-forever changing the landscape of children's literature in the process. Now this beautiful collection brings together nine of his best-loved stories, including the 1963 Caldecott Medal-winning book The Snowy Day and Caldecott Honor book Goggles!, plus Whistle for Willie, Peter's Chair, Apt. 3, and others. Also included is artwork from an unfinished picture book, The Giant Turnip, published here for the very first time. An introduction by celebrated critic of children's literature Anita Silvey outlines Keats's career and inimitable contributions. In addition, five of the most important writers and illustrators working in the field today share their thoughts on Keats and the legacy he left behind. An afterword describes his incredible life, from his childhood in Brooklyn to children's book legend.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Keats's Neighborhood: An Ezra Jack Keats Treasury pays tribute to the life and work of the celebrated children's book creator. An introduction by Anita Silvey puts his books in the context of their time; illustrators such as Jerry Pinkney and Simms Taback describe the influence of Keats's work on children's books in general or their own in particular; and the attractively designed volume concludes with a brief biography. The work offers 10 complete stories (the trim size slightly enlarged from the original) including the Caldecott Medal-winning The Snowy Day (1962); Goggles! (1969), a Caldecott Honor book; and other favorites, such as Whistle for Willie (1964) and Peter's Chair (1967), plus sketches from The Turnip Seed, which Keats was working on at the time of his death in 1983. Photographs, original sketches and drafts round out the presentation.
Children's Literature
Reading Keats's Neighborhood together may have families viewing their neighborhoods in a different way. As this volume of ten stories makes clear, Ezra Jack Keats's genius lay in his ability to portray, without sentimentality, the vitality and grit of the city. His text and collage art celebrate the lives of creative urban children. In his Caldecott-winning The Snowy Day, Peter enjoys the season's first snow, which transforms the entire city. In Jennie's Hat, a little girl feeds hungry birds, which make her an amazing chapeau. In the mysterious Apt. 3, Sam and Ben search out the source of some lonely music and befriend a grouchy neighbor. A foreword by Anita Silvey and a brief bio and photos of the author provide a glimpse of the man behind the books. 2002, Viking,
— Mary Quattlebaum
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670035861
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 174,879
  • Age range: 5 years
  • Product dimensions: 10.02 (w) x 10.58 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Ezra Jack Keats

Ezra Jack Keats (1916–1983) is the Caldecott Medal winning author of The Snowy Day, which broke ground in 1962 as one of the first picture books for young children to portray a realistic, multi-cultural urban setting. Since its initial publication, The Snowy Day has come to be regarded as both a children’s classic and one of the most important picture books ever written/illustrated. Ezra Jack Keats’ legacy lives on in the popularity of his most famous character, Peter—the star of The Snowy Day, Whistle for Willie, Peter's Chair, A Letter to Amy, Goggles, and others. Visit the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation online at www.ezra-jack-keats.org

Biography

When Ezra Jack Keats began creating children's books in the 1960s, he noticed something missing from the genre and chose to correct it.

Keats had already illustrated several kids' books and was starting his second when he made a simple but important decision: The main character would be black. "None of the manuscripts I'd been illustrating featured any black kids-except for token blacks in the background," Keats later wrote. "My book would have him there simply because he should have been there all along."

The character, Peter, debuted in The Snowy Day, which won a Caldecott Medal. Perhaps the strongest statement Keats made about race at the time was making ethnicity (his first book's protagonist was a Puerto Rican boy) completely incidental to the story. The books' themes are universal: In the case of Snowy Day, a boy discovers the joy of angel-making, sledding, and all the other things kids do on a free winter day.

The child of immigrants, Keats grew up in a Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, in relative poverty. Although his gifts with pencil and paint were obvious from a young age, his father, a waiter, discouraged his artistic ambitions, fearing it would be too hard for his son to make a living. When he brought home tubes of paint for Ezra, he would tell the boy that hard-up artist customers had swapped their paint for soup. When his father died, however, Keats discovered a stash of newspaper clippings: his father had carefully saved the notices of all of Ezra's artistic prizes and achievements.

Once established as a creator of children's books, Keats developed a stable of characters -- including the adventurous Peter, a shy boy named Louie, and a sympathetic girl named Amy -- who often resurfaced over the author's twenty-odd years of storymaking. Often taking place in urban settings and illustrated in Keats's hallmark gouache and collage style, the stories chronicle the discoveries, pleasures, and fears of being a kid: coping with a new sibling, befriending a previously scary blind neighbor, entering a pet show, or finding a pair of goggles.

Keats tackled the topic of single parenthood in Louie's Search, where Louie accidentally discovers a husband for his mom. Even when characters behave oddly or badly (as in the case of Louie's new dad, who initially accuses the boy of stealing from his junk truck), their innate goodness is always revealed. Each title exemplifies Keats's faith in people.

With his muted, evocative images and his commitment towards diversity, Keats made children's literature vivid and human in a way it had never been before.

Good To Know

In the late 1930s, Keats worked as a mural painter on WPA projects. He entered the Army in 1943, where he designed camouflage patterns.

Later, Keats created five greeting cards about peace for UNICEF's first greeting card season ... A million cards were sold that year.

The de Grummond Children's Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi is the sole repository for Ezra Jack Keats's archives.

A life-size bronze statue of Peter, Willie, and Peter's chair sits in Imagination Playground in Brooklyn's Prospect Park.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Jacob Ezra Katz (birth name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 11, 1916
    2. Place of Birth:
      Brooklyn, New York
    1. Date of Death:
      May 6, 1983
    2. Place of Death:
      New York, New York

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    Elegant Stories of a neighborhood, one with a smorgasbord of cultures

    Keasts allows you to see the world as it is, not how you would like to see it. He tells simple, yet elegant tales that are fun to enjoy. The bring out a richness in the varying opinions, stories, and cultures that are in the one neighborhood he created. It is incredibly rich.

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