Kids' book 'The Snowy Day' is focus of Pa. exhibit
In this Friday, July 19, 2013 photo, a visitor views illustrations at The Snowy Day and The Art Of Ezra Jack Keats exhibition at the National Museum of American Jewish History, in Philadelphia. The exhibit opened July 19. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — During the height of the civil rights movement, a gentle book about a black boy in a red snowsuit crunch-crunch-crunching through the snow broke down racial barriers and now is the subject of an upcoming exhibit.
Ezra Jack Keats' beloved 1962 book, "The Snowy Day," is credited as the first mass-market children's storybook to feature a black protagonist — a preschooler named Peter joyfully exploring the snow-covered sidewalks in his New York City neighborhood.
The National Museum of American Jewish History is presenting a retrospective, "The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats," from July 19 to Oct. 20. The exhibit includes more than 70 original works, ranging from preliminary sketches to final paintings and collages.
In this Wednesday, July 10, 2013 photo, chief curator Josh Perelman speaks during an interview with The Associated Press as perorations are made for The Snowy Day and The Art Of Ezra Jack Keats exhibition at the National Museum of American Jewish History, in Philadelphia. The exhibit opened July 19. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
"We wanted to marry the strength of the show as an art exhibition with the significance of the book in children's literature," museum curator Josh Perelman said. "We really wanted the exhibit spaces to feel alive ... to feel like being in a children's book."
The son of white Jewish immigrants from Poland, Keats was born Jacob Ezra Katz in New York City's Brooklyn borough in 1916 and grew up in poverty. Artistically gifted but unable to attend art school, he started out working as a sign painter, comic book background illustrator and Works Progress Administration muralist before creating children's books.