| An Examination of Children's Literature and Picture Books
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Ezra Jack Keats-A Letter to Amy
A Letter to Amy is a picture book about childhood friendship and simple concerns. Flatter and brighter then most of Keats's other city based works with the exception perhaps of "Snowy Day" it tells the story of Peter who wishes to write a letter to his friend Amy, in order invite her to his birthday. One can see the concern and thought on this subject on petters face and his body in the first picture, from his pose and his crossed feet. His mother frames in the the picture with a dark green shirt and a bright yellow pattern which she is showing. This foreground framing elements shows the tightness and the warmth of Peters life, even as he sits at the desk with this basic concern.
As Peter goes outside to mail the letter he enters the stormy wind, where he looses hold of his letter and watches it blow away.
Peter then chases the letter trying to catch it with his foot, running after it as it skips across a hopscotch game and more. The flatness of Peter and his bright yellow rain coat over the multi colored city scapes gives energy and purpose to his actions. Then in a single double spread the focus shifts from Peter to Amy as she enters the story, outside for some unknown reason she sees the letter blowing in the wind and goes to catch it. Backed by a bright yellow window, the color of the outdoor action in this book Amy becomes the dominant concern of the story. And Peter worries that she will see her letter before he can send it and so will ruin the surprise. In his haste to stop this potential tragedy Peter runs int Amy knocking her to the ground, in one of Keats's most dynamic illustrations. With the bright yellow figures of Peter and Amy poping out of the dark slate colored sky and street.
One should notice how this and a few pictures down when Peter is concerned the background is grey or earth toned, indeed the only time it turns blue is as Peter puts the letter in the mailbox.
Back at home Peter is surrounded by yellow walls and his moms needle point which is now the curtains to the window which he stairs out of. Again Peter is surrounded by warmth and happiness yet he stands pensively, concerned. By surrounding him with such warmth in this picture Keats is letting us know that Peters only concern is for the impact his action had on Amy.
At Peter's birthday party this becomes more apperent for despite all the friends that arrive, Peter looks downtroden in his mothers arms for Amy has not shown up yet. But then she shows up, in a painting of Peter framed happily between her and his friends, not caring what they think of a girl showing up tot he party anymore.