The two classic picture books I chose were The Snowy Day, and William’s Doll.
The Snowy Day is a picture storybook, showing the main character Peter, playing in the snow. The illustrations, which caught my attention first, are beautiful, entertaining, and engaging for adults and children. Unique drawing style, warm colors, unique framing and composition all add to this book’s appeal.
The story shows all the ways young Peter can play in the fresh snow. This book was published in 1962, and the story is about an African-American boy – a rare primary character for the 1960’s. The story is simple but appealing, and leaves lots of room for non-scripted reading with children.
William’s Doll is another picture storybook that was unique for its time, in that William is a young boy who asks for a doll as a gift. His father continually buys him “male” toys instead. It’s a sweet, simple story, though William is made fun of for wanting a doll. This could potentially be the first time a child might learn that a boy can be called a sissy (and a creep?) for liking a doll, but the story ends positively with William getting a doll and his grandmother encouraging the purchase with William’s father. Today, William’s father seems like a jerk, but at the time, I suspect that was a typical, and acceptable response. The 70’s seems like an early time to be addressing the theme of gender roles.
The illustrations are soft and comforting. Clothing styles in the book are very much 70’s style, so it is somewhat dated in that way. It looks like the illustrations use pointillism, so they are unique, with muted colors also like those of Georges Seurat.
Keats, E.J. (1962). The snowy day. NY: Viking Press.
Zolotow, C., & Pene du Bois, W. (1972) William’s doll. NY: Harper & Row.
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