Ezra Jack Keats was born Jacob Ezra Katz in Brooklyn, New York on March 11, 1916. He was a mural painter for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) for three years before taking a job as a comic book illustrator. During World War II, he joined the United States Air Corp and was a camouflage pattern designer. After the war, he changed his name to make his Jewish heritage less noticeable. He wrote and/or illustrated more than 85 children's books. The first book he illustrated was Jubilant for Sure by Elizabeth Hubbard Lansing, which was published in 1954. The first book he wrote was My Dog is Lost, which was published in 1960. His other works include Pet Show and The Snowy Day, which won a Caldecott Medal in 1963. He was also awarded the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion for outstanding contributions in the field of children's literature in 1980. He died of a heart attack on May 6, 1983.Richar Slotkin is the Olin Professor of American Studies at Wesleyan University. He is the author of Gunfighter Nation and Regeneration Through Violence, both National Book Award Finalists, and The Crater.