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Ezra Jack Keats ( born Jacob Ezra Katz) March 11, 1916 – May 6, 1983.

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Presentation on theme: "Ezra Jack Keats ( born Jacob Ezra Katz) March 11, 1916 – May 6, 1983."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ezra Jack Keats ( born Jacob Ezra Katz) March 11, 1916 – May 6, 1983

2 “I think that children look at Peter first of all as a child, who is like themselves in some ways whether they are boy or girl, black, brown or white, fat or skinny or what.” Ezra Jack Keats - Milwaukee Journal interview The Snowy Day, a 1963 Caldecott Medal winner. “ When The Snowy Day first came out (1962), it was considered groundbreaking. Unprecedented. Here, at last, was a picture book in which the protagonist is black.” E.R. Bird April 22, 2004 Amazon Customer Review

3 Introduction Ezra Jack Keats was born Jacob Ezra Katz on March 11, 1916 in Brooklyn, NY. He was the third child of Polish Jewish immigrants Benjamin Katz and Augusta Podgainy. An artist at an early age, Jack made pictures out of wood, cloth, paper…anything he could collect. Jack’s father worked as a waiter and discouraged Jack from doing his art work. Even though his family was very poor, Keats continued to learned about art from the public library. In high school he won a Scholastic national contest for his oil painting of hobos warming themselves around a fire. In January 1935 Jack was to receive the senior class medal for excellence in art. Unfortunately, two days before, Jack’s father suddenly died of a heart attack. When he identified the body, Keats later wrote…

4 "I found myself staring deep into his secret feelings. There in his wallet were worn and tattered newspaper clippings of the notices of the awards I had won. My silent admirer and supplier, he had been torn between his dread of my leading a life of hardship and his real pride in my work.”

5 After high school… Despite scholarships, Jack was unable to go to art school. Needing to support his family, Jack worked at a number of odd jobs. From the Works Progress Administration, he painted murals. Keats was also a comic book illustrator for Fawcett Publications, creating backgrounds for the Captain Marvel comic strip. As part of Roosevelt’s “New Deal”, the WPA supported tens of thousands of artists by funding the creation of 2,566 murals and 17,744 pieces of sculpture that decorate public buildings nationwide. Ezra Jack Keats joined the army in 1943 and spent to the end of World War ll (1945) designing camouflage patterns for the Air Force. In 1947 he legally changed his name to Ezra Jack Keats. This was in reaction to his experiences of discrimination against Jews.

6 After the war... Ezra Jack Keats studied art in Paris in 1949. He returned to New York to earn a living as a commercial artist. Many of his illustrations appeared in Reader’s Digest, The New York Times Book Review, and popular book jackets. Street scene in Paris, watercolor, unsigned, 1949

7 His first illustrated book... Keats’ cover illustration for a novel was on display in a Fifth Avenue bookstore and was spotted by the editorial director of Crowell Publishing (today Macmillan). He was asked to come work for Crowell Publishing and published his first illustrated book, Jubilant for Sure, in 1954. - Jubilant for Sure, by Elizabeth Hubbard Lansing, was set in the mountains of Kentucky. - Keats later illustrated the first four novels in the Danny Dunn series.

8 His first attempt... My Dog is Lost, published in 1960, was Ezra’s first attempt at writing his own children’s book, co-authored with Pat Cherr. The main character is a boy named Juanito, newly arrived in New York City from Puerto Rico, who has lost his dog. Speaking only Spanish, Juanito searches the city and meets children from Chinatown, Little Italy and Harlem. This was the beginning of casting minority children as his central characters.

9 THE SNOWY DAY... Two years later, Keats was invited to write and illustrate a book of his own. The Snowy Day, published in 1962, is the story of Peter’s joyful experience of a snowy day. Peter has a red snowsuit, a stick just right for knocking snow off of trees, and a snowball in his pocket. And, though this is never mentioned in the text, Peter is African-American.

10 The inspiration for Peter... In 1940, Life magazine published a short photo essay focused on a little boy in Liberty County, Ga., who was about to undergo a blood test. Keats was struck by the sweet images of the child, and cut the group of photographs out of the magazine. He’d often put them on his studio walls before he’s begin to illustrate children’s books. Keats said, “I just loved looking at him.” That little boy was the inspiration for Keats' character Peter, the African-American protagonist of The Snowy Day and six books that followed. “I just loved looking at him. This was the child who would be the hero of my book. Then began an experience that turned my life around.”

11 Its unique look... In 1963 he was awarded the Caldecott Medal, a most distinguished honor for illustrated children’s literature. The techniques that give The Snowy Day its unique look—collage with cutouts of patterned paper, fabric and oilcloth; homemade snowflake stamps; splattering India ink with a toothbrush, were all methods Keats had never used before. After years of illustrating books written by others, Peter had given Ezra Jack Keats a new voice of his own. “Then began an experience that turned my life around,” he wrote, “working on a book with a black kid as hero. None of the manuscripts I’d been illustrating featured any black kids—except for token blacks in the background. My book would have him there simply because he should have been there all along. Years before I had cut from a magazine a strip of photos of a little black boy. I often put them on my studio walls before I’d begun to illustrate children’s books. I just loved looking at him. This was the child who would be the hero of my book.” “I was like a child playing,” he wrote of the creation process. “I was in a world with no rules.”

12 Peter... Keats wrote a total of seven books featuring Peter between 1962 and 1972: The Snowy Day (1962) Whistle for Willie (1964) Peter's Chair (1967) A Letter to Amy (1968) Goggles! (1969) Hi Cat! (1970) Pet Show (1972)

13 Whistle for Willie 1964 A sequel to The Snowy Day, an older and wiser Peter wants to learn to whistle. Wouldn’t it be the perfect way to call his dog Willie? Peter tries so hard to whistle that his cheeks hurt, but he doesn’t give up.

14 Peter’s Chair 1967 Peter has a new baby sister. First his father paints Peter’s old cradle pink, then his crib. Then his parents want to paint Peter’s chair! This is a gentle and reassuring story about sibling rivalry.

15 A Letter to Amy 1968 Peter is having a birthday party, and he’s asked all of his friends to come. But Amy is a special friend because she’s a girl, so Peter decides to send her a special invitation. When he rushes out in a thunderstorm to mail it, he bumps smack into Amy herself and knocks her to the ground. Will she come to his party now? How will Peter’s friends react to having a girl at the party?

16 Goggles! 1969 Peter has found a pair of old, beat-up motorcycle goggles. He and his best friend Archie are on their way to Archie’s front stoop with their prize find when they run into a neighborhood gang that wants those goggles, too. What the bullies don’t understand is just how hard it is to catch the boys and their dog. Caldecott Medal Honor Book, 1970

17 HI, CAT! 1970 It’s a beautiful day, and Archie is on his way to meet his best friend Peter. Suddenly stopped by a newcomer to his neighborhood, Archie says, “Hi, cat!” The cat sits, looks him up and down, and purrs. This encounter turns out to be the beginning of a wonderful friendship. Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for illustration, 1970

18 Keats’ Characters Louie: appears in 4 books; the quietest character Susie: Peter’s younger sister and Louie’s friend Archie: Peter’s best friend (Hi, Cat! & Pet Show) Amy: Peter’s friend (A Letter to Amy & Dreams) Roberto: appears in Pet Show & Louie; Dreams Jennie: Jennie’s Hat, 1966 - The story of her very special hat. Maggie: Maggie and the Pirates, 1979 – Maggie finds the “pirate” who stole her cricket. Amy Maggie Roberto Louie Archie Jenny

19 More... Clementina: Clementina’s Cactus, 1982 – in this picture book, Clementina and her father discover a lone desert cactus. This is one of Keats’ last books before his death in 1983.

20 Featuring Animals... Skates, 1973 Pssst! Dogs, 1973 Kitten for a Day, 1974 In honor of Skates! a rink in Kiyose, Japan was named after Keats, who attended the 1974 opening as the guest of honor.

21 Books written and illustrated My Dog Is Lost (1960) The Snowy Day (1962) Caldecott Medal winner Whistle for Willie (1964) John Henry, An American Legend (1965) Jennie's Hat (1966) Peter's Chair (1967) A Letter to Amy (1968) Goggles! (1969) — a Caldecott runner-up Hi, Cat! (1970) Apt. 3 (1971) School Library Journal’s Best Books, 1971 Pet Show! (1972) Skates! (1973) Pssst! Doggie- (1973) Dreams (1974) Kitten for a Day (1974) Louie (1975) The Trip (1978) Children’s Choices Award, International Reading Association and the Children’s Book Council, 1977 Maggie and the Pirate (1979) Louie's Search (1980) Regards to the Man in the Moon (1981) Clementina's Cactus (1982) One Red Sun, A Counting Book (1998)

22 Whose in the yellow shirt? In Pet Show, Keats places himself into one of his illustrations. The figure to the right is a self portrait of Keats.

23 Personal Honors Children’s Choices Award, International Reading Association and the Children’s Book Council, 1977 Member of White House Forum on Child Development and the Mass Media, 1970 “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” on PBS featured Keats as a guest four times, 1971-1974 Harvard University Gutman Library housed selected papers and illustrations of Keats, the first children’s book author-illustrator asked to donate his papers to the library, 1974-1975 UNICEF Ezra Jack Keats International Award for Excellence in Children’s Book Illustration established, 1985-1994 Ezra Jack Keats New Writers Award established by the New York Public Library, 1986 Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition established by the New York City Department of Education in collaboration with the Foundation, 1986

24 By the time of Ezra’s death, following a heart attack in 1983, he had illustrated over 85 books, and written and illustrated 22 children’s classics. Ezra never married or had a family of his own, yet it is evident in his books that he loved children. It is also evident, through his awards and honors, that we was loved by many through his stories and illustrations.

25 Websites of Interest the-art-of-ezra-jack-keats the-art-of-ezra-jack-keats keats-author-study keats-author-study eats/ eats/ topic/ezra-jack-keats/ topic/ezra-jack-keats/

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