On Thanksgiving, Amazon quietly published its contribution to the Christmas canon. The Snowy Day is an adaptation of the award-winning 1962 children’s picture book of the same name, written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats.
Odds are you’ve seen the book, or had it read to you. Its cover art, with a tiny boy wearing a red coat and a pointy hat, is iconic. And the book itself is a staple of kindergarten bookshelves.
At 37 minutes long, the animated short has a meatier plot than its 16-page source material. But don’t let the book’s diminutive length short-sell its significance. In 1963, Keats won the Caldecott Medal for The Snowy Day. Critics and educators praised his book as a touchstone for racial representation in literature. Peter, the book’s protagonist, is black, though the book never mentions his race. A 2012 NPR story digs into the criticisms Keats, who was white, faced in the 1960s from civil-rights leaders who wished the book went further into Peter’s racial identity. As Deborah Pope, the executive director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, told NPR: “It was no longer necessary that the book say, ‘I am an African-American child going out into the snow today.’ They realized that you don’t put a color on a child’s experience of the snow.”