Ezra Jack Keats's style of illustration--colored cut-paper collages or blends of acrylic paint, is instantly recognizable. Keats's mother encouraged his artistic abilities but his father warned him not to become an artist as he would starve and "have a terrible life." Despite this warning, Keats did become an artist and won three scholarships to art schools. He served in the Air Force during World War II and began to find work as an illustrator. Keats illustrated many works of other artists before writing and illustrating a work of his own--that effort, THE SNOWY DAY won the Caldecott Medal in 1963. The lead character of that book, a young African-American boy named Peter, appeared in a number of other works by Keats including WHISTLE FOR WILLIE (1964) and DREAMS (1974).