Ezra Jack Keats


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Zoo Where are You? (mixed media)
Ezra Jack Keats, illustrator
Ann McGovern, author
Harper & Row, 1964

Ezra Jack Keats grew up in Brooklyn. He began drawing when he was 4 years old. Keats was a muralist and designer of book jackets before he became an illustrator of children's books. He was searching, experimenting, and trying to find a style of his own. The technique of using collage came to him in 1962 when he drew Peter in the modern classic The Snowy Day.

"With The Snowy Day I started all over again. My use of collage developed naturally. I used a bit of paper here and there and immediately saw new colors, patterns, and relationships forming. When I finished the book, I myself was startled!" The Snowy Day won the 1963 Caldecott Medal and has since been a phenomenon in children's book illustration, leading the way in portraying black children in natural settings.

The Snowy Day's success gave impetus to Keats's later work.  He created additional books about Peter, including Whistle for Willie (1964) Peter's Chair (1967) A Letter to Amy (1968) and Goggles (1969).

Books Are By People, Hopkins, Lee Bennett, Crowell, 1969

Ezra Jack Keats