THE MAKING OF A
KEATS PICTURE BOOK

To Ezra Jack Keats, the creator of a book is like the choreographer of a dance. First he begins with a visual idea of what might happen in the book. In a SKETCH BOOK, he pictures the characters talking to one another, and scenes are formed. Drawings are made which line the walls of his studio so he can see the flow of the book and make necessary changes.

An artist like Keats works from a plan, like an architect with blueprints of a house to be constructed. The foundation of the book is the STORYBOARD and DUMMY. The STORYBOARD shows all the pages of a book, greatly reduced, on one sheet of paper. The DUMMY is more three-dimensional, being a preliminary model of the book, with the same number of pages. These are the primary tools of the author/illustrator, which give him a sense of the overall composition of the book.

The text of the story emerges from these preliminary designs. The author writes a MANUSCRIPT of the story, which is revised many times until it becomes a TYPESCRIPT. The TYPESCRIPT is also changed through the help of the editor, who is a creative force behind the whole book.

The author/illustrator takes the completed work to the publisher. The original ILLUSTRATIONS are finished works of art, ready to be reproduced into the printed book. Ezra Jack Keats like to use bold colors, simple shapes, and varied textures in his illustrations.

He often combined patterned papers and cloths with paints to make striking illustrations.

Once the text and images are one, the book is typed into GALLEY PROOFS and printed on long narrow sheets before being cut into pages. The author and editor continue to make changes, as evidenced by various versions of GALLEYS printed.

SPECIFICATIONS are drawn, giving instructions for the manufacturing of the book including type of paper, printing inks, colors, weight of binding board, and type of binding. Here the instructions for the BOOK JACKET are shown, and the final result is the cover which draws the reader within.

PRESS SHEETS are produced which contain all the pages of the book. Even here changes may be made at the last minute. A well conceived, well-executed book must be thought through to the smallest details, from conception to production. The book becomes a whole whose parts are in harmony with each other. A book grows from within.

Examples of these types of original materials from the Keats Collection can be viewed for each of the "Peter books" by clicking a specific title under the Peter Books.

Go to Introduction | Biography | Peter Books |


This site maintained by The de Grummond Children's Literature Collection at The University of Southern Mississippi
Contact: Ask deGrummond Reference Service
Revised:April 26, 2002
URL: http://www.lib.usm.edu/legacy/degrum/public_html/keats/howto.html
AA/EOE/ADAI