By March 27, 2007 2 Comments Read More →

Ezra Jack Keats: An American Hero

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation has a cool new site. I’m a big fan of his books — and so is my two-and-a-half-year-old son. There’s a lot of information about Keats, his books and characters, and the foundation. (No T-shirts for sale, unfortunately.)

Reading Keats’ fascinating life story, it seems all the more amazing that the white son of poor Polish immigrants would grow up to create such memorable black characters in his picture books:

At the age of eight, Ezra won the approval of his father when he was paid twenty-five cents for painting a sign for a local store, providing Benjamin with the hope that his son might be able to earn a living as a sign painter; nevertheless, Ezra was in love with the fine arts. 

I grew up with The Snowy Day and John Henry: An American Legend, and my boys will, too.

(When my son was in the hospital last Christmas Eve, the nurse gave him a tiny stuffed chihuahua, who was soon named John Henry due to the latter’s inspiring bravery. Now, when my son performs feats of strength, like pushing open a heavy door, then he calls himself John Henry, too. Come on, say it with me: awwww….)



About the Author:

Keir Graff is Executive Editor of Booklist Publications and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix (2011). Follow him on Twitter at @Booklist_Keir.

2 Comments on "Ezra Jack Keats: An American Hero"

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  1.' Deborah Pope says:

    Dear Mr. Graff,
    Thank you for your lovely response to our new website. It is gratifying to know that more information about Ezra increases the delight people take in his work.
    I will take your comment about T-shirts as a hint. Perhaps we will have to add that item to our Shopping page.
    Once again, thanks for your posting.
    Deborah Pope
    Executive Director
    Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

  2. Keir says:

    If I may make a modest suggestion for your first T-shirt…John Henry!

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