“A Poem for Peter” by Andrea Davis Pinkney is a children’s picture book, written as one long, epic poem about the life of Ezra Jack Keats, son of Jewish immigrants from Poland who came to America in search of opportunity. Through his art and illustrations he found his passion, but as time went on, he found in it a new way to stand up against discrimination and to tell a new story.
In writing the children’s story, “The Snowy Day” in the early 1960s, he began to reshape the conversation about prejudice in America. The book won the Caldecott Medal, and was the first mainstream book to feature an African American child. That child, Peter, became the focus of several more acclaimed books written by Keats.
Ms. Pinkney’s retelling of history in lyrical form is a delightful way to learn of the inspirational life of Ezra Jack Keats for young and old lovers of great stories and poetry. It is the perfect way to introduce a child to both the medium of poetry and to begin to educate young people about America’s troubled past dealing with prejudice and how we can continue to reshape its future.
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