Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ezra Jack Keats

It is a delight and an honor to have the work of Ezra Jack Keats on exhibit at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. In the mid-1960's, when I was just getting started as an illustrator of books for children, a friend of mine offered to introduce me to Ezra Keats, a Caldecott Medal Winner. The truth was, I did not know what the Caldecott Medal was or meant at that early stage of my career.

Soon afterward, I was fortunate to have lunch with the very kind and warm Ezra Jack Keats. After lunch, Ezra invited me to his studio where he showed me how he created his beautiful marbled papers. We talked about the business of publishing, he explained so much to me. And he assured me -- I had not quite made the leap of faith into the new direction I was heading -- a living could be made from illustrating books for children.

So, from strangers to colleagues, we soon became friends. We had dinners together and went to parties at each other's apartments in the Village or the Upper Eastside. I was a greenhorn at the threshold of the world of picture book making, and he an experienced professional who reached out to me, such a kind and generous spirit.

I hope you will enjoy the exhibit of his work and if you cannot see it at the Museum, enjoy his wonderful books. 

Ezra Jack Keats, 1973. Photo: Beverly Hall. The Snowy Day and The Art of Ezra Jack Keats is organized by The Jewish Museum, New York, from the collection of the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection, The University of Southern Mississippi. The exhibition was funded at The Jewish Museum through a generous grant from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. Additional support was provided by the Joseph Alexander Foundation, the Alfred J. Grunebaum Fund, and the Winnick Family Foundation. Exhibition support at The Carle has been generously provided by Penguin Young Readers Group and the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation.


  1. As a preschool teacher I use children,s literature everyday. I recently visited the museum and was thrilled to see the Ezra Jack Keats exhibit. It is absolutely beautiful. it gave me goosebumps.

  2. His books were a huge part of my childhood and I share them with my students often. Willie, the little dachshund present in many of his stories, is the ultimate dog for an artist and I couldn't wait to get my own when I grew up. Mine is named Dexter.

  3. I really like many of Keat's stories ( Peter's Chair, Goggles, and Pet Show) but my favorite is The Snowy Day. It is a very popular story here and I use it every winter with my kindergarten children.
    Regards from Western Canada,

  4. nice posting.. thanks for sharing.

  5. Mr. Carle, i just love reading your post about Ezra Jack Keats. Thank you! I have loved learning more about Ezra's life and work this year. I feel like he has really become my mentor in a way, and I think of him a lot. The way you described his open+kind spirit is much like I imagine yours. :) I also spent time studying and enjoying his original art from many of his books and his personal paintings while in Hattiesburg in April. AMAZING! So layered and rich! I am still learning from seeing his originals. :) I know many will feel the same when they see the show! Thank you, jenny