One-Minute Book Reviews

February 26, 2010

A Second Look at Ezra Jack Keats’s ‘The Snowy Day’

Filed under: Children's Books — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 10:37 pm
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A Caldecott medalist often called “the book that broke the color barrier” in children’s publishing

Winter still has enough muscle here in New Jersey that the library was closed for snow yesterday, so I couldn’t put my hands on a trailblazing book about the kind of weather we’re having now, Ezra Jack Keats’s The Snowy Day (Puffin, 40 pp., $6.99, paperback, and other editions). But an excellent reference book on children’s literature puts its achievement in context.

“Keats illustrated nearly a dozen books before writing his first, The Snowy Day, which won the 1963 Caldecott Medal,” former children’s librarian Mary Mehlman Burns writes in The Essential Guide to Children’s Books and Their Creators(Houghton Mifflin, 2002), edited by Anita Silvey.

“A celebration of color, texture, design, and childhood wonder, The Snowy Day is significant in that it was one of the first picture books in which a minority child is seen as Everychild. Years before, Keats had come across photos of a young boy, and he recalled that ‘his expressive face, his body attitudes, the way he wore his clothes, totally captivated me.’ The boy was to become Peter, who, in his red snowsuit, discovers the joys of dragging sticks and making tracks in the snow. After its publication, Keats found out that the photos had come from a 1940 Life magazine – he had retained the images for over 20 years.

“With solid and patterned paper as wedges of color, Keats used collage to create endearing characters and energetic cityscapes, not only in The Snowy Day (1962) but also in Whistle for Willie (1964) and Peter’s Chair (1964).”

A generation of readers – black and white – is grateful to The Snowy Day, sometimes called “the book that broke the color barrier” in picture books from mainstream publishers. The editions include DVD-and-book gift set from Viking that also has Whistle for Willie.

You may also want to read “American Library Association to Little Kids: Women Are Second Best,” a response to the medals gap between male and female Caldecott winners.

This review first appeared in 2008.

You can also follow Janice Harayda (@janiceharayda) on Twitter. She satirizes the American literary culture, such as it is, on her Fake Book News page (@fakebooknews) on Twitter at www.twitter.com/FakeBookNews.

http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/caldecottmedal/caldecottwinners/caldecottmedal.cfm

 

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
http://www.janiceharayda.com

February 16, 2008

Snowbound With a Child? Don’t Forget ‘Henry and Mudge in the Sparkle Days’

Filed under: Children's Books — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 11:58 am
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Spring and all those daffodils can seem a long way off if you live in the Snowbelt or even in New Jersey, where we’ve had a frigid week. A book that could get a young child excited about lingering snow is Henry and Mudge in the Sparkle Days: The Fifth Book of Their Adventures (Henry and Mudge Ready-to-Read/Aladdin, 48 pp., $3.99, paperback, ages 4-8), with words by Cynthia Rylant and by Suçie Stevenson. A boy and his affectionate dog enjoy a different winter pleasure – the first snowfall, a Christmas Eve dinner and a family walk at night — in each of three amusing stories by one of the best author-illustrator teams working in the field of beginning-reader books. Other books in the series include Henry and Mudge: The First Book, Henry and Mudge and the Snowman Plan, Henry and Mudge and the Big Sleepover and Henry and Mudge and the Tall Tree House www.henryandmudge.com. A review of Henry and Mudge in the Sparkle Days, also available in hardcover and audio editions, appeared on Dec. 7, 2007 www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/12/07/.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

www.janiceharayda.com

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