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May 10th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2017-2018 Intermediate | January

A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson. Viking, 2016

As a child in the 1960s, Andrea Davis Pinkney was affected profoundly by The Snowy Day. It was the first book she encountered featuring an African American child like her. Her ingenious poem is a celebration of both the character Peter and of his creator, Ezra Jack Keats. Keats started out life as a poor Jewish boy in Brooklyn who dreamed of being an artist. Peter of The Snowy Day makes several of what Pinkney describes as “peek-a-boo” appearances throughout this lyrical account of Keats’ life, “waving at the reader.” When Keats was working early in his career as a comic-book artist, for example: “The brown-sugar boy / in a blanket of white / began to ignite by what kids saw, / and didn’t see, / in the not-so-funny comics / Ezra was made to draw. / All the heroes in all the comics / were always as white as a winter sky.” This tour-de-force is illustrated brilliantly with acrylic, collage, and pencil artwork that gives a true sense of Keats’s own artwork. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  1. How did Ezra’s responsibilities for his family affect his career?
  2. Why was/is Peter such an important character for so many children?
  3. Who and what supported Ezra’s dreams? Who supports your dreams?

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