USPS Honors Beloved Children's Book With New 'Snowy Day' Stamps

Oct 8, 2017
Originally published on October 8, 2017 11:24 pm
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

If you went to the post office this past week, you might have noticed something new - a forever stamp collection featuring illustrations from the children's book "The Snowy Day" by Ezra Jack Keats.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Reading) One winter morning, Peter woke up and looked out the window. Snow had fallen during the night. It covered everything as far as he could see.

MARTIN: When "The Snowy Day" was published in 1962, it made history thanks to the protagonist.

ANDREA DAVIS PINKNEY: That adorable child, Peter, the African-American boy in that gorgeous red snowsuit.

MARTIN: That's a children's book author Andrea Davis Pinkney. One of her books, "A Poem For Peter," is about Ezra Jack Keats and the significance of "The Snowy Day."

PINKNEY: It was the first mainstream book to feature an African-American child who was doing something that was universally joyful, and that is, simply enjoying a day in the snow.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Reading) Crunch, crunch, crunch, his feet sank into the snow. He walked with his toes pointing out like this. He walked with his toes pointing in like that.

PINKNEY: I loved "The Snowy Day." In fact, I probably slept with that book because that's how much comfort it brought me. It made me feel so happy. And I still feel that way today. It just brings such comfort and joy in what is now a very complex world.

MARTIN: The world was complex back when "The Snowy Day" first came out, too.

DEBORAH POPE: This was a time of ferment in this country. It was a time of social change. It was growing - height of the civil rights movement.

MARTIN: Deborah Pope is the executive director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. She says that even though the book had a big social impact, that was not the author's intention.

POPE: He was thinking about the fact that in all the books he had ever illustrated, he had never seen any African-American children. And yet, they were everywhere around him. And so he determined he would write a book that featured an African-American child because it should be visible.

MARTIN: And with these stamps, Peter will have another opportunity to share feelings of joy and community even in an age of texting and emails. Once again, Andrea Davis Pinkney.

PINKNEY: I love the idea that Peter on a stamp is going to be the transmitter of love letters, of cards, of good wishes. And I think that is also the power of "The Snowy Day" stamps with Peter on the front.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Reading) The snow was still everywhere. New snow was falling. After breakfast, he called to his friend from across the hall, and they went out together into the deep, deep snow.

MARTIN: "The Snowy Day" stamps are available now.

[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: The author of The Snowy Day was previously misidentified as Jack Ezra Keats. His name is in fact Ezra Jack Keats.] Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.