A love letter to the man who gave readers the beautiful and enduring image of a black boy in a red hooded snowsuit.
Pinkney, an African-American Brooklynite and a child of the 1960s, uses free verse to tell the story of the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland who settled in Brooklyn. Jacob Ezra Katz attended local schools, served in the Army during World War II, and loved to draw. He famously saw a series of photographs in Life magazine of a little black child and saved them for many years until the creation of A Snowy Day, which was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1963. Katz, who changed his name to Keats to avoid anti-Semitism, went on to feature Peter, that “brown-sugar boy in a blanket of white,” in several more ever popular stories. Fancher and Johnson’s collage art is a homage to Keats’, re-creating images from his books and fashioning scenes of Keats’ own Brooklyn neighborhood. 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. (author’s notes, Keats bibliography, resources, photographs) (Picture book/poetry/biography. 6-10)