The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats



Keats, Ezra Jack. The Snowy Day. New York: The Viking Press, 1962. ISBN 9780140501827

Plot Summary

Peter wakes up one morning to find that it has snowed during the night and the snow is covering everything. After he eats breakfast, Peter bundles up and heads out for a day of fun in the snow. He makes snow angels and snow balls, wants to participate in a snowball fight with older kids but thinks better of it, and makes a snowman. When Peter goes home at night, he tells his mother of his day and replays it in his head. He worries the snow will be gone the next day, but it is not, so he gets some friends and they go out for another day of snow adventures.

Critical Analysis

In his book, Keats creates an interesting character who has allowed many children to place themselves in the story and follow the easy progression of the snowy day as Peter lives his adventures. The reader is introduced to Peter’s neighborhood through Keats’s signature style of illustrations which are beautifully uncomplicated and feature bold, brilliant colors. The illustrations also suggest movement and contribute to the overall mood of pure and simple childlike joy.

It is easy to see why this book gained such popularity worldwide: it is simple, relatable, and enjoyable for readers of all ages.

Review Excerpts

Caldecott Medal
( WON AWARD in 1963 )

School Library Journal
( #5 on Top 100 Picture Books List)

“The book is notable not only for its lovely artwork and tone, but also for its importance as a trailblazer. According to Horn Book magazine, The Snowy Day was “the very first full-color picture book to feature a small black hero” ” — editorial review

“…he did what very few can: quietly and intimately engage with the way children experience the world—the small excitements, the tiny heartbreaks, the bright newness of all five senses, and the unparalleled elation of snow on a school day.” — John Hodgman, author


Read more books about Peter written by Ezra Jack Keats:

  • Peter’s Chair ISBN 9780140564419
  • A Letter to Amy ISBN 9780670880638
  • Goggles! ISBN 9780140564402

Read another book about snow day adventures:

  • Tracks in the Snow by Wong Herbert Yee, ISBN 9780312371340

Have students draw pictures about what they did on a snow day or what they would do if they have not yet experienced one.

Have students act out Peter’s adventures from the book.

(image from, accessed January 26, 2015, cover art by Ezra Jack Keats)


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