| An Examination of Children's Literature and Picture Books
Children's Literature and Books Home
Children's Literature Review-Ezra Jack Keats-Googles
One of Keats's better works Goggles is the story of a two boys scavanging stuff on the street for fun, when one of them Peter finds motorcycle goggles. They then go to their hide out to examine the googles which they think are wonderful. The light hearted nature of the story and the childlike glee at such a simple item contrasts beautifully with Keats's illustrations of the poorer district of New York in which the children live, and make their hide out from a pit in what appears to be a pile of junk painted in sketchy dirty browns.
The boys begin to walk home when they are confrunted by some "big boys" who demand that Peter hand over the goggles. The painting for this shows Keats understanding of this sort of relationship and of young children's thinking. It the big boys pushing the foreground as dark figures who's faces you can't see, using their dark silluettes to frame Peter, Archie, and their little dog. In some ways this is a little like a game for many younger children, a source of pride, so long as they escape. This of course by no means excuses the actions of the bigger children who attempt to take such items, but for younger children this is a little like an adventure, and an adventure it is, for Peter and Archie manage to escape back to their fort and trick the bullies by yelling into a pipe, so the bullies hear the noise in the distance.
Goggles is a good example of Keats's ability to create beauty and fun stories in dirty atmospheres, like the children he illustrates who have fun and live in a childs world of adventure no matter the surroundings.