This is a love poem to Ezra Jack Keats – the man who gave us Peter and his snowy day. The book opens with Peter (Brown-sugar boy in a blanket of white./Bright as the day you came onto the page./From the hand of a man who saw you for you.) – and moves right into the story of Jacob (Jack) Ezra Katz.
In free verse his life sweeps onto the page. His Polish immigrant parents work hard to support their family – but the hardship of establishing a life in a new land leaves the family poor and struggling. Ezra’s artistic talent is clear from an early age – his father sees a career as a sign painter, his mother sees the fine artist she dreamed of being herself. He is encouraged by parents, teachers, friends, and librarians to improve his “knack.” Ezra has to pass on college scholarships and work for the WPA when his father dies the day before his high school graduation. His talent is used in the Air Force during World War II. After the war he sees discrimination up close and “rearranged his name” to counter the ads saying “No Jews Need Apply”. He became Ezra Jack Keats. Keats cut some photos of a little black boy from a life magazine and hung them near his desk for years. When asked to write and illustrate his own book he was inspired by this little boy staring out at him.
This is an homage to Ezra Jack Keats and The Snowy Day (and Peter) that is lyrical, thoughtful and loving. The illustrations complement the poem – and the art work of Ezra Jack Keats. Through mixed media collage Fancher and Johnson have captured the essence of Keats’ style perfectly.
This is the perfect book to highlight during Poetry Month! Pick up a copy today
published by Orchard Books (imprint of Scholastic)
The author of the first titles in the popular Pete the Cat series now brings readers Groovy Joe (the dog). Groovy Joe is so excited by his ice cream he bursts into song attracting the attention of others – first a small dinosaur, then a big dinosaur and finally a huge dinosaur. The dinosaurs arrive with spoons in hand, bibs and an appetite for ice cream. Of course, Groovy Joe announces that “it’s awesome to share”! Alas, all ice cream containers empty – as does Groovy Joe’s. Groovy Joe is never at a loss for what to do – and everyone ends up happy – singing and dancing. The story is very repetitive (but not annoying) and the song is catchy (and can be found online.) The illustrations are bold and fun. This picture book is perfect for story time. Here’s hoping Groovy Joe has many more tunes to play on his guitar.
Birdie Gaux and her faithful canine sidekick, Bowser, are back in another mystery. In this sequel to WOOF, Birdie and Bowser find themselves unexpectedly in the middle of a cold case, the murder of Birdie’s police detective dad. Suspicious happenings and characters give Birdie pause – two house burglaries on the same day, the arrival of a young woman with green hair and a man that is a little too interested in the Gaux home. The novel is written from the dog’s point of view – and Bowser is quite hilarious. But the humor does not throw the reader off the scent nor does it distract the reader from the serious events. Bowser proves himself a hero – and Birdie proves herself a fine detective. This dialogue driven novel will entertain mystery lovers and dog lovers alike. The narration by Jim Frangione is perfect.
Here’s hoping for installment #3 in this mystery series.
Spencer Quinn is the author of the bestselling Chet and Bernie mystery books for adults.
Pick the audio book up at the Portland Public Library.