Friday, January 13, 2017

Peter’s Snowy Book and Poem

Picture Book: The Snowy Day
Author & Illustrator: Ezra Jack Keats
Summary: This picture book classic and Caldecott Medal winner captures delight in God’s creation. 
In its day, this book was particularly significant because Peter is an urban child and a non-white child, both were rare in picture books. 
Little Peter’s first experience with snow is exploratory and abundant. His urban community has been transformed into white wonder. 
He hopes to have a souvenir from his adventure, 
but alas, snowballs, like ethereal moments, don't last.
Hanna’s Comments: In The Snowy Day publication I have (published exclusively for the Dolly Pardon Imagination Library program), I find Tips for Reading with Preschoolers. I would add to those recommendations that you simply talk about God as the provider of the beautiful snow and how pleased God must be that Peter is enjoying God’s gift of snow. Then go for an exploratory nature walk, whether you have snow or not, and be grateful for God's creation.
On NPR, I heard an interview that I want to recommend to those of you who enjoy the history of picture books and value having children of color as main characters. 
Andrea Davis Pinkney, an author of books for children and young adults, has written a stunning poetic tribute to Ezra Jack Keats and his most popular book. A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day is beautiful and informative. 
The poem and the illustrations vividly tell Keats’ story. He was a child of Polish immigrants who fled antisemitism. From an early age, he was destined to become an artist. 
How The Snowy Day came to be was fascinating! Pinkney was the perfect author for this tribute. “As an African-American child growing up in the 1960s, at a time when I didn’t see others like me in picture books, I was profoundly affected by the expressiveness of Keats’ illustrations.” 
Illustrators Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson perfectly echo Keats' style from the 1962 book. 
For me, the most powerful part of  A Poem for Peter was the photos from a Life magazine article that Keats had above his desk for 20 years before they inspired the character of Peter in The Snowy Day
You’ll find the NPR story [here].
This poem is too long to be read for a Picture Book Theology experience, but you could bring the book along wherever you read The Snowy Day, share some of its illustrations, and tell your audience the history and significance of this delightful classic.
Original Publisher & Date: Viking Press, 1962
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 2 and up, Toddler and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet, video, audio
Scripture Connections: Delight yourself in the Lord… But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. (Psalm 37: 4 & 11); Wonderful are your works (Psalm 139:14b)
Idea(s) for Application: For very young children, see my comments above. For older children and adults, read this book as an example of a contemplative prayer experience in which a child delights in God’s creation. 

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