New York: The Viking Press, 1962. First edition of The Snowy Day, which is considered "one of the most important American books of the 20th century" (Diefendorf, ed. The New York Public Library's Books of the Century). Oblong quarto, original pictorial cloth as issued. Fine in a near fine first-issue dust jacket, with the prerequisite $3.00 price on the dust jacket and no mention of this title winning the Caldecott Medal (the second and subsequent printings mention this on the front flap of the jacket) and without patterned interior front and rear flaps that mimicked the snowflake patterns of the endpapers in later printings. Although the Caldecott Medal is affixed to the dust jacket cover, this was due to the common practice of book sellers who adhered the sticker for marketing purposes after the Caldecott was awarded. First printings in the original dust jacket are of the utmost rarity. After serving in World War II, Ezra Jack Keats returned to New York and started a career in illustration, working first in the comic industry, and then working for such publications as Reader's Digest, The New York Times Book Review, and Collier's. In the 1950s Keats started illustrating dust jackets, and when one book cover caught the eye of an editor of youth literature, Keats was soon commissioned to illustrate children's books. Keats started solely as an illustrator for the work of other authors. But he soon observed that few children's books showcased an African-American or other minority child as the main character. Published in 1962, The Snowy Day was the first book Keats both authored and illustrated, and was a milestone for featuring the first African-American protagonist in a full-color picture book. "None of the manuscripts I'd been illustrating featured any black kids--except for token blacks in the background. My book would have him there simply because he should have been there all along." It went on to win the 1963 Caldecott Medal, and has remained a deeply loved and profoundly influential book. Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association named the book one of its Teachers Top 100 Books for Children. In 2012 it was ranked number five among the Top 100 Picture Books in a survey published by School Library Journal. (Inventory #: 40005)
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