Ezra Jack Keats (1916-1983). Ezra (if he was still alive, I’d make sure we’d be on first name basis) is my urban children’s book hero. From early childhood, he knew he wanted to be an artist. When life gave him lemons, he made lemonade. Pre-empted from enrolling in art school, he sought artistic type jobs. After serving in WWII, he studied painting in Paris. He prolifically wrote and illustrated 22 children’s books. Especially from the 60s to the 70s, his illustrative masterpieces captured the sentiments of growing up in urban American neighbourhoods. He depicted the multi-cultural camaraderie and the care-free attitudes of childhood. Children played outside, solved problems, amplified their independence and developed their identities. Parents supported their children’s imaginations as well as required certain responsibilities. Ezra’s books demonstrated great compassion, kindness and joy for friendship and learning. Thank you and happy birth year! I can’t help but wonder if Ezra was still illustrating how might he capture today’s childhood?
[Images sourced from: above About Ezra | The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and below Read-aloud: The Snowy Day | The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation ]