When a little African American boy named Peter left his footprints on the snowy illustrations of the book “Snowy Day,” he also left those prints on many hearts. Peter now leaves his mark on the United States Postal Service’s Snowy Day Stamp. The Postal Service recently unveiled a series of four stamps depicting some of the favorite scenes from author/illustrator Ezra Jack Keats’s book on October 4th, 2017.
The Beloved Book
Published back in 1962, “Snowy Day” was unusual because it depicted an African American at its center, which was unusual in children’s literature at the time. Keats made that decision purposely, according to the the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation (www.ezra-jack-keats.org), because though he grew up and lived in New York City, surrounded by children of many races and nationalities, children’s literature largely only depicted the lives of white children. Keats, who was the son of immigrant parents, knew what it was like to feel like an outsider and didn’t want his young readers to feel that way.
The book resonated. “Snowy Day” was awarded the prestigious Caldecott Medal from the American Library Association in 1963 and has received numerous honors, including being named to the important lists like the New York Public Library’s Books of the Century in 1996 and the Library of Congress’s Books that Shaped America in 2012.
Many of the 22 books that Keats wrote and illustrated received awards, but “Snowy Day” is possibly his most beloved, which could be why the United States Postal decided to create the Snowy Day stamp.
The Iconic Stamps
The artwork of Ezra Keats has a timeless simplicity that fits perfectly on the Snowy Day stamp series. On its website, children’s book publisher Scholastic points out that Keats used collage techniques to “create cityscapes that carry a strong dose of urban reality: grime, graffiti and a lot of energy.”
The United States Postal Service sought to capture that energy in stamp form, depicting “Snowy Days” protagonist Peter in his iconic red snowsuit making his way through his neighborhood. In a press release the postal service said the stamp depicts Peter making a snowball, sliding down a mountain of snow, forming a snow angel and leaving footprints in the snow.
The stamps, like the book, will likely awaken the desire to play in a few adults. Actor Roscoe Orman, who played the character of Gordon on “Sesame Streets,” speaks on the Keats Foundation website to Keats’s rare gift for connecting to childhood.
“Through the eyes of Peter, grateful for a wintry day’s vacation from school, we can all see and relive some of our own childhood experiences with nature and the unencumbered imagination of innocence. My own memories of growing up in Bronx neighborhoods of the 1940s and ‘50s allows me to easily relate to Peter’s exuberance when suddenly awakening to a winter wonderland.” – Roscoe Orman
Recommended read: If you want to get customized stamps for your mail this holiday season, we encourage you to check out our page about custom postage stamps!
Snowy Day stamps are currently on sale and are issued in a First Class, Forever 20-stamp booklet. There is also a variety of additional Snowy Day merchandise available at your local post office or at store.usps.com.