Ezra Jack Keats
Ezra Jack Keats, author and illustrator of children's books, was born in Brooklyn, NY, on March 11, 1916. He illustrated jackets for adult and juvenile books and provided drawings for almost a dozen children's books by other authors before he wrote The Snowy Day (1962), one of the first picture books in which the central character is a minority child. It won the Caldecott Medal.
Keats used cut-out and gouache collage to create city scapes that carry a strong dose of urban reality: grime, graffiti, and a lot of energy. Written for children under five, the early stories, including Whistle for Willie (1966), Peter's Chair (1967), Goggles (1969), and Apt. 3 (1971), focus on learning new things—how to whistle, outwit a tougher kid, or cope with emotion. In later works, such as Pet Show! (1972) and Dreams (1974), children start to grow up and explore the city, and Keats's strong graphics and vivid colors give way to a darker palette and more impressionistic style. But even in the challenging Louie stories (Louie, 1975; Louie's Search, 1980), about a lonely, fatherless boy, the world in Keats's stories is presented as an emotionally secure child would experience it, filled with interesting detail and possibility.
Ezra Jack Keats died on May 6, 1983.
"Keats, Ezra Jack." Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia.