Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Picture Book Review: The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

THE SNOWY DAY! By Ezra Jack Keats

Keats, Ezra J. 1976. THE SNOWY DAY.  New York, NY: Puffin. ISBN: 0140501827

The experience of waking up to a snow-covered wonderland is portrayed through the eyes of a small child named Peter.  As Peter explores and enjoys this exciting environment making footprints in the snow, building smiling snowmen, and creating snow angels, you experience the joy that comes along with it.  It is in the little things that Peter has through his mini adventures that you can appreciate this childhood experience over and over again. 

Keat’s simple, yet powerful book about a young boy’s experience with snow came at a time when a story featuring colored children wasn’t exactly popular.  His groundbreaking picture book broke barriers in his time and created a pathway for others to follow.  Little Peter’s journey through his winter wonderland brings the reader back to a time when the experience of snow on a winter’s day was a highlight in any child’s life.  Even if the reader has no real-life connection with snow, they can live this experience along with Peter and get a glimpse of its wonder through a child's perspective. You also experience the innocence of Peter through his action of putting the snowballs away in his coat pocket so he can play with them again tomorrow.  When the snowballs are gone (melted away from the heat in his house), you feel sorry for him as he goes to bed sad and disappointed that they didn't last forever. Yet, although he dreams that the sun has melted away all his snow, he awakens to find that his snowy wonderland is still there, and he can’t wait to go outside again and share his day with a friend.
Keat’s choice of a red snowsuit really stands out against the white snowy background, and creates an artistic visual effect for the reader.  You are able to find Peter in his little red snowsuit right away on any page and your focus is completely on him and what he is doing.  There is no dialogue from Peter or any of the characters, but through Keat’s description and illustration of Peter’s snowy day, you know exactly how he must be feeling and thinking, because you can place yourself in his shoes. Keat's use of curved lines creates a soft feel to the pictures, just like the snow would be.

Caldecott Honor Award

The Horn Book: "the very first full-color picture book to feature a small black hero."

* This book is great to share with young readers about early experiences and diverse characters.

*Collect other books written and illustrated by Keats such as: WHISTLE FOR WILLIE, A LETTER TO AMY, PETER’S CHAIR, and GOGGLES.

*Other picture books featuring diverse characters:
Ada, Alma F. I LOVE SATURDAYS Y DOMINGOS. ISBN: 9780689318191
Falwell, Cathryn. DAVID’S DRAWINGS. ISBN: 1584302615

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