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Preview: "The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats"

Explore the groundbreaking artist's magical cityscapes at the Jewish Museum's new exhibit.

  • Photograph: Steven Tucker/The Jewish Museum

    Visitors toThe Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats at The Jewish Museum

  • Photograph: Courtesy of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

    Ezra Jack Keats, "Peter, Archie and Willie crept out of the hideout." Final...

  • Photograph: Courtesy of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

    Ezra Jack Keats, " 'What kind of neighborhood is this?' thought Louie." Final...

  • Photograph: Courtesy of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

    Ezra Jack Keats, "Crunch, crunch, crunch, his feet sank into the snow." Final...

  • Photograph: Courtesy of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

    Ezra Jack Keats, "So he made a smiling snowman, and he made angels." Final...

  • Photograph: Courtesy of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

    Ezra Jack Keats, "He told his mother all about his adventures." Final...

  • Photograph: Courtesy of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

    Ezra Jack Keats, "Before he got into bed he looked in his pocket." Final...

  • Photograph: Courtesy of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

    Ezra Jack Keats, "After breakfast he put on his snowsuit and ran outside."...

  • Photograph: Courtesy of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

    Ezra Jack Keats, "When he stopped everything turned down...and up..." Final...

  • Photograph: Courtesy of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

    Ezra Jack Keats, "Peter's mother asked him and Willie to go on an errand to the...

  • Photograph: Steven Tucker/The Jewish Museum

    Visitors toThe Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats at The Jewish Museum

  • Photograph: Steven Tucker/The Jewish Museum

    Visitors toThe Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats at The Jewish Museum

  • Photograph: Steven Tucker/The Jewish Museum

    Visitors toThe Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats at The Jewish Museum

  • Photograph: Steven Tucker/The Jewish Museum

    Visitors toThe Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats at The Jewish Museum

  • Photograph: Steven Tucker/The Jewish Museum

    Visitors toThe Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats at The Jewish Museum

Photograph: Steven Tucker/The Jewish Museum

Visitors toThe Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats at The Jewish Museum

It's been 50 years since Peter, the little boy in Ezra Jack Keats's The Snowy Day, stepped outside to discover his New York City neighborhood covered in the powdery white stuff. The red snowsuit--clad tot—the first African-American protagonist in a full-color picture book—immediately captivated young readers; the book even earned Keats a Caldecott Medal. This month "The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats," a five-month-long exhibit devoted to the work of the self-taught artist, opens at the Jewish Museum. "Keats was highly influenced by his childhood in Brooklyn," says Claudia Nahson, the exhibit's curator. "Kids will see how he used art to transcend his surroundings with techniques they can replicate at home." Here are seven things young museumgoers won't want to miss.

Find Ezra
Keats often cast himself as a character in his books. Encourage kids to look through the illustrations at the entrance of the exhibit—they'll find the bearded author as the exuberant junkman Barney, a painter and an immigrant violinist.

See the originals
Kids get a close-up view of the artwork from Keats's three most famous Peter books: The Snowy Day, Whistle for Willie and Peter's Chair. Point out how Keats used collage to show the world tilting as seen by the spinning Peter in Whistle for Willie.

Go back to the old neighborhood
Inspired by the East New York community where he grew up, Keats based Peter's 'hood on the urban environment he knew best. Kids will get a kick out of his depictions of whimsical, graffiti-covered walls and exploding trash cans.

Read a classic
Little ones can grab a bean bag or sit on the mock stoop in the reading room, outfitted to look like Peter's neighborhood, while they peruse more than a dozen different Keats titles.

Meet John Henry
The American folk hero gets the star treatment under Keats, who believed he was a real person. Parents can share the story of the man who outperformed a steam-powered drill, while kids take in the painting of a baby born with a hammer in his hand.

View Jennie's hat
Keats's only book featuring a female protagonist tells the story of a girl whose plain hat is transformed by some very helpful birds. Kids can gawk at the actual headgear, covered in Valentine's cards, leaves and doilies, that was the inspiration behind Keats's story Jennie's Hat.

Get creative at a workshop
In addition to Keats Family Day on November 13 (with readings, live music and a gallery scavenger hunt), the museum is hosting special Sunday family classes in which children can create a diorama (Oct 30), try their hand at collage or learn how to marbleize paper (Dec 4, 11 and during winter break).

"" is on view from Sept 9 to Jan 29, 2012, at the Jewish Museum.

WANT MORE KEATS? Head to the at Central Library, at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn. At the monthly storytime, every kid leaves with a free copy of a Keats book. This month's event: September 22 at 7:30pm.

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