Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Friday, January 7, 2011

Snow Day!

Monday night I published a post about one of our daughters putting ice down her pants and a spoon under her pillow in an attempt to summon a snow day. I teased her about it last night and she let me know she had actually misunderstood the instructions. To stir up a snowstorm that will lead to a snow day, you must flush 2 ice cubes down the toilet, do a snow dance and sleep with a metal spoon beneath your pillow. Apparently talking about the steps is enough because, wouldn't you know, we awoke this morning to phone calls and emails advising us that school was canceled today in anticipation of a snowstorm. SNOW DAY!!! A day like this should be celebrated by staying in PJs all day long (with no ice cubes), sipping hot chocolate, reading a great book; ahhhhh... A day like this is a day to enjoy reading, for the three thousandth time, Ezra Jack Keats' The Snowy Day. Did you know that this 1963 Caldecott Medal winner was the first full-color picture book to feature a young Africn-American hero? If not, then when you sit down for your three thousand and first reading of this classic, you can appreciate both the exquisite artwork and the importance of the book on a different level. Interestingly, Keats himself was not African American. Rather, it is said that growing up in New York City, he was surrounded by children of many different races and it struck him that all the books he had ever seen were filled with white children. As the son of struggling Polish-Jewish immigrants, he knew what it meant to feel like an outsider and resolved that as a writer and illustrator, his characters would be representative of his community. The protagonist of The Snowy Day, Peter, was modeled after a little boy whose picture he had seen in a magazine and whose likeness had stuck with him.

The Ezra Jack Keats Book Awards were established in 1985 to recognize and encourage authors and illustrators new to the field of children's books.  The winner of the 2010 Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award was Tonya Cherie Hegamin for Most Loved in All the World, illustrated by Cozbi Cabrera. It is described as a deeply authentic and touching account of slavery, a  mother’s love and sacrifice in the pursuit of freedom for the daughter she loves and how a handmade quilt helps a little girl leave home for freedom.

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