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A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day Hardcover – November 1, 2016

4.7 out of 5 stars 42 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 2–4—Pinkney dives into the life and work of Ezra Jack Keats, specifically focusing on The Snowy Day and his creation of the main character, Peter. Using poetry (what the author refers to as "collage verse"), mainly addressed to Peter, Pinkney pieces together Keats's biography, tracing spots where early versions or hints of Peter can be found, and reflects on what a monumental event the publication of the picture book was and still is. Students will learn about Keats's early life, his tireless dedication to provide for his immigrant family, his love and pursuit of art, and how he changed his name from Jacob (Jack) Ezra Katz to Ezra Jack Keats to avoid anti-Semitism in the United States after World War II. Pinkney's verse seamlessly weaves together story and fact to craft an intimate conversation about the artist's history and impact. ("Brown-sugar child,/when you and your hue/burst onto the scene,/all of us came out to play.") Readers familiar with Keats will notice allusions to his other works throughout. The illustrations complement the text, and Keats's own style, by using mixed-media collages of prints, fabrics, photos, and paint, all of which capture the liveliness of the urban setting and historical points. This uplifting telling ends with a discussion of the cultural importance of Peter and how Keats's vision paved the way for authors and artists to look for and include children of color in their work. VERDICT This celebration of a visionary children's book author and illustrator is a lovely addition for most collections.—Briana Moore, Elmont Memorial Library, NY

Review

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2016
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year 2016
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of the Year 2016
A Sydney Taylor Award Honor Book
An ALSC 2017 Notable Children’s Books list pick

★ "Those who love Peter (and who does not?) will relish the illustrations, particularly that of Keats holding hands with Peter under a snow-dappled tree. More to the point, Pinkney lets readers know what Peter meant and still means as a milestone in inclusive children's literature. "He brought a world of white / suddenly alive with color." A loving and forceful reminder that Keats' Peter is our Peter—always." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ "Fancher and Steve Johnson’s acrylic, collage, and pencil illustrations seamlessly integrate images from Keats’ books into their own art, which employs a style complementary to the originals. Equally important they skillfully represent Pinkney’s lyrical text, which sometimes requires historical accuracy, magic realism, and nods to future possibilities, all within one spread . . . This is an important book." —Bookliststarred review

★ "Pinkney’s poem sheds fascinating light on Keats’s long-lived achievement." —Publishers Weeklystarred review

"Pinkney’s verse seamlessly weaves together story and fact to craft an intimate conversation about the artist’s history and impact . . . Lovely." —School Library Journal

"In lively verse, Pinkney presents a picture book biography of Ezra Jack Keats . . . The resonances are immediate and cathartic. Fancher and Johnson, who, like Keats, are known for their collage illustrations, thoughtfully incorporate Snowy Day motifs and other images from Peter’s world along with photos and additional archival material; the color palette and textures, too, effectively pay homage to Keats’s work." —The Horn Book

"A heartfelt and thoughtful look at an artist’s growth and a single individual’s effect on a genre." —BCCB

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed in the United States on November 30, 2016
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Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 25, 2018
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