Some months before I had my first baby, Mari, a dear friend of mine kicked off my daughter’s library collection with three beautiful board books: Vera Williams’ “More More More, Said the Baby,” Margaret Wise Brown’s “Goodnight, Moon,” and Ezra Jack Keats’ classic, “The Snowy Day.” I was most intrigued by “The Snowy Day,” of course, because I’d already been on a desperate hunt for children’s books featuring characters that reflected the chocolate girlpie I’d yet to meet but dreamed about every second of the day, and was having quite the time finding books that stood up to the challenge. This was before Amazon, y’all, when you actually went to bookstores and had to rely on in-store stock, which, of course, was sorely lacking in the Black children’s books department. So the Caldecott Award-winning “The Snowy Day” was a most welcome gift—one that both my daughters and I treasure to this day, for its beautiful story, illustrations and representation of an adorable Black boy in all his humanity. Indeed, Keats’ hero, Peter, and the stories he inspired in Keats’ storied children’s book collection, was one of the biggest inspirations behind my new children’s book imprint, Denene Millner Books.
Which is why we’re so excited to see the new animated adaptation of “The Snowy Day” on Amazon Prime. Narrated by Laurence Fishburne, who pulls double duty as executive producer, the story follows the adorable Peter, clad in his signature red snowsuit, as he goes on a big adventure to Nana’s house to pick up the family’s traditional Christmas Eve mac and cheese dinner. Along the way, Peter runs into friends from the neighborhood (including a group of older boys he looks up to, an acapella group voiced by Boyz II Men). But after retrieving the dinner and a brand new red wagon from Nana, he gets into an epic snowball fight, destroying both the holiday dinner and his new sled. When the neighborhood comes together to celebrate new traditions with Peter and his family, Peter realizes the true meaning of the holiday is who you spend it with.
What a way to honor Black children (outside of Doc McStuffins, animated stories featuring African American characters is quite the rarity in animated stories on TV and the big screen), plus pay tribute to our babies’ humanity and celebrate the classic story that Keats, a then-longtime children’s book illustrator, once said changed his life:
None of the manuscripts I’d been illustrating featured any black kids—except for token blacks in the background. My book would have him there simply because he should have been there all along. Years before I had cut from a magazine a strip of photos of a little black boy. I often put them on my studio walls before I’d begun to illustrate children’s books. I just loved looking at him. This was the child who would be the hero of my book.
Now, Peter gets to be our children’s hero not only in the book, but on our TVs (and tablets, computers and phones).Regina King, Angela Bassett and Jamie-Lynn Sigler also lend their voices to the adorable animated film, which debuted on Amazon Prime just last Friday. Check out a scene from “The Snowy Day” in the video above, and watch the full movie here on Amazon Prime.
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.