Keats, Ezra Jack

Keats, Ezra Jack,

1916–83, American author and illustrator of children's books, b. Brooklyn, N.Y., as Jacob Ezra Katz. During the Great Depression, he painted murals for the Works Progress Administration and illustrated comic books, then joined the U.S. Army (1943), where he designed camouflage patterns. After studying art in Paris in 1949, he returned to New York and worked as a commercial artist and children's book illustrator, developing a collage technique using scraps of patterned and marbleized paper. His many books for children include The Snowy Day (1962; Caldecott Medal), one of the first picture books to feature an African-American child (Peter) as a main character, and Whistle for Willie (1964), Peter's Chair (1967), A Letter to Amy (1968), and Goggles! (1969), which tell of Peter's further adventures.
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Keats, Ezra Jack

(1916–83) author, illustrator; born in New York City. He was based in Brooklyn, attended the School of Visual Arts (1947–48), worked as muralist for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the Depression of the 1930s, and became an illustrator. He is known for writing and illustrating many books for young readers, notably The Snowy Day (1962), in which he used the collage medium to feature a black boy named Peter.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.