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The Snowy Day
The Snowy Day
Author Ezra Jack Keats
Illustrator Ezra Jack Keats
Country United States
Genre Children's picture book
Publisher Viking Press
Publication date
ISBN 978-0-670-01270-1
OCLC 3003159
LC Class PZ7.K2253 Sn 1978

The Snowy Day is a 1962 children's picture book by American author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats (March 11, 1916 – May 6, 1983). It features Peter, an African American boy, who explores his neighborhood after the season’s first snowfall. Keats received the 1963 Caldecott Medal for his collage artwork, which made The Snowy Day the first picture book with an African American protagonist to win a major children’s award.  


Peter, The Snowy Day's protagonist, wakes up to the season’s first snowfall. In his bright red snowsuit, he goes outside and makes footprints and trails through the snow. Peter is too young to join a snowball fight with older kids, so he makes a snowman and snow angels and slides down a hill. He returns home with a snowball stashed in his pocket. Before he goes to bed, Peter is sad to discover the snowball has melted. The next day, he wakes up to tons more falling snow. With a friend, he ventures outside again.

About the author

Keats, born Jacob (Jack) Ezra Katz, grew up in a poor Jewish family with immigrant parents in Brooklyn, New York. Following his service in World War II, he changed his last name from Katz to Keats to avoid anti-semitism and to find work in the book publishing industry. Keats’s experience living in tenement housing surrounded by children of different cultures and ethnicities can be seen in his books. For example, he and co-author, Pat Cherr, featured minority children in their first work, My Dog is Lost! However, none of Keats's more than 30 illustration jobs featured black children prior to The Snowy Day. If he wrote and illustrated his own book, Keats always knew the hero would be African American.


The Snowy Day was adapted as an animated preschool Christmas special released on Amazon Prime on November 25, 2016. The special is narrated by Laurence Fishburne and includes the voices of Regina King and Angela Bassett. In it, an original song, "Snowy Day," was performed by Boyz II Men. In 2017, this adaptation was nominated for five Daytime Emmy Awards, and won two.

The book inspired Andrea Davis Pinkney’s A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day in 2016.

The Snowy Day has been translated into at least 10 languages.

Honors and memorials

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation created the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award in 1985, and the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award was established in 2001.

The New York Public Library named The Snowy Day as one of its Books of the Century.

Peter and his dog, Willie, are memorialized in a bronze statue in Imagination Playground in New York City.

In 2017, the United States Postal Service honored The Snowy Day and Keats with four illustrations of Peter playing in the snow on its Forever Stamp.

The Snowy Day was number one on the list of "Top Check Outs OF ALL TIME" by the New York Public Library.

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