Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tuesday SOL A wonderful exhibit

It is Tuesday and this is a "Slice of Life" for Two Writing Teachers.  Check out their website for lots more reflections on teaching.

Just had an awesome trek to Philadelphia with a couple of my dear friends for the primary purpose of seeing the Ezra Jack Keats exhibit at the National Museum of Jewish History, before it closes on October 20th.  I am awash with thought and inspiration.

I have always loved his picture books: The Snowy Day, Regards to the Man in the Moon, Peter's Chair, Whistle for Willie, Dreams, Goggles...and so many more. What fun to slowly, carefully, quietly peruse Ezra Jack Keats' story boards, his notebooks of ideas, his paintings. I enjoyed reading all the biographical information and seeing the connection of his childhood to his books - not only in his setting (the city, where he had grown up) but in his feelings as an outsider, somewhat invisible to others. I felt as if I was getting inside his head, seeing how story ideas came to him and then grew into picture books.

Every original page of The Snowy Day was on exhibit and I was mesmerized by his artwork.  I have always found the picture book compelling, but, the originals - wow! I couldn't believe the textures and layers to his art. I hadn't realized that each page was collage - he used both paint and varied papers, photographs, newspaper clippings, and other materials to meticulously create his scenes.

Although each page is made intricately, the results are simple. On most pages, Ezra Jack Keats hones in one thing - and expresses so much.  Consider this one, from  The Snowy Day , where snow falls on top of Peter's head. Ezra Jack Keats paints a beautiful marbled background sky, and very simple depiction of the action. Yet, he conveys the child's surprise and delight. (I love the one "squished" eye from the weight of the snow.)

I am fascinated by how Ezra Jack Keats zeroed in on what is most important, capturing the essential. Doesn't this say something about the power of editing? Keep it simple!

I am touched by how he clearly valued
the little feelings,
the small experiences,
the simple actions
of children.

What a delight!


  1. What a gift to have, for you to see and to observe his artistic gifts, too. Thanks for sharing; I'm envious, but learned a little from what you observed. Nice!

  2. Illustrators have such power in the way they can convey just the perfect part of a story. I was reading a book to my class last week - Bear Meets Blue - and I was amazed by the extra little story bits they wove into the story because of what was included in the pictures.

  3. Such a wonderful exhibit. Thank you for sharing it with those of us who will not see it in person!