Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day , first published in March 1962, follows a little boy exulting in a big snowfall in New York City. In the words of Jhenelle Robinson, a YA librarian at the New York Public Library’s Morrisiana branch, the beautifully illustrated picture book “captures the wonder and excitement of a fresh snowstorm through the eyes of young Peter.”
Peter (as NPR notes) “was among the first non-caricatured African-Americans to be featured in a major children’s book,” and his story captures a universal moment of joy in his everyday life. Keats went on to win the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1963.
In the tradition of Keats’ classic, we asked our NYPL experts to recommend children’s books that feature kids and families of color. Here are their favorites.
In which a dessert, mistletoe, and a determined Goldstein sister make for a fluffy holiday evening. <3
Rating: Fluff fluff fluff! :D And a yummy dessert that I’m kinda craving now…
Against Queenie’s request, Tina had insisted on everyone decorating while she was at work that evening, reasoning that she would be tired by the time she got home anyway, so it would be silly to wait up for her.
With the apartment lit by candlelight and warmed by the roaring fireplace, it’s inhabitants began the process of decorating for the holiday season. You and Jacob insisted on doing so in the No-Maj fashion, as you explained it would be all the more rewarding once it was finished and the tree was lighted. Queenie was quick to excitedly accept this, and made sure there was a constant flow of Christmas music drifting from the radio as everyone set to their decorating duties.
You were currently on a step-stool to reach the top of the border of the doorframe in the kitchen, carefully hanging lights as you mentally checked off your list of final touches needed in the kitchen. It was when you noticed an empty hook in the middle of the panel that the idea of mistletoe popped in your head. You watched the serene snowfall in the New York streets from the view of the window in the other room, contemplating whether or not to hang any in the doorway.
Your gaze flicked toward Newt, who was currently dressing the Christmas tree with tinsel, tenderly setting the silver decor on each branch precisely, his tongue poking out in concentration as he reached for the higher branches.
Was Newt even familiar with the No-Maj–or Muggle, holiday custom? You figured with his extensive knowledge of horticulture that went along with his caring for his creatures, he may at least be aware of the concept. Then again, maybe he had no idea and it would take him completely by surprise.
You mulled over the idea with a smile. It would be a bit of a treat to surprise him under the doorway if just to admire the way his cheeks would flush modestly, or how he would stutter adorably after a brief kiss to his lips rather than his cheek as you normally did. You stared at the seemingly perfectly placed empty hook above the center of the doorway, ideal for hanging of the mischievous plant. You inhaled sharply at the sudden thought of him kissing you back–
“You think it’s missin’ something, huh honey?”
You felt your stomach drop, realizing your thoughts were likely as loud as Christmas bells to the peppy Goldstein sister. “Um, well I think there’s room for more lights and…” you muttered unsurely, feeling your cheeks heat up as you turned to see Queenie grinning at you from the stove where she tended to supper. “…and stuff.”
“Oh don’t worry honey,” Queenie’s smile broadened, if possible, shrugging her shoulders as she sashayed to the table to sift through the other decoration boxes. “I have some “stuff” for sure!” she giggled, revealing a small bundle of mistletoe tied together with silk red ribbon that looped around her finger.
You scrambled for an excuse, “Um, well I dunno if we want to put it in such an obvious place–”
Suddenly the timer on the counter rang and Jacob quickly shuffled into the kitchen, whistling along to “Winter Wonderland”. He hastily opened the oven, revealing a pan with puffy pastries that instantly engulfed the room in a fresh bread scent that almost made your stomach growl. “That smells amazing Jacob,” you quickly commented, not-so-secretly relieved to have changed the subject, ignoring Queenies little pity head-shake as she twirled the mistletoe absentmindedly.
Jacob sent you genuine smile that you couldn’t help but reciprocate. “Thanks, I’m trying out a few new things with cinnamon and vanilla. I’m in need of some taste testers, though, if you’re willing.” he chuckled at your vigorous nodding, “I take that as a yes!” Carefully cutting a few puffy square-ish shaped servings from the pan, Jacob handed a sticky-bun like pastry to you and Queenie.
You didn’t hesitate to shove away the step stool and rush to the table to gratefully take the snack and consume a large bite, “Oh wow, it tastes like Christmas!” you hissed dramatically, evicting a hearty laugh from Jacob.
“It’s so sweet!” Queenie squeaked with a smile, quickly swallowing and leaning forward to call to the living room, “Come have some, honey!”
Newt did a double take upon realizing the Goldstein sister was, in fact, addressing him, and hastily placed the rest of the tinsel in his hand on a few more branches before stumbling over decoration boxes to the kitchen.
“Oh first, could you do me a favor hun?” Queenie piped innocently, her heels clicking as she met Newt halfway and at the doorway in the kitchen. “Hang this right there for me?” she pointed with a smile to the empty hook above the entryway, “Can’t seem to reach by myself,” she giggled, sending you raised eyebrows that you rolled your eyes at playfully.
“S-sure,” the bashful Hufflepuff nodded, his adorable mop of honey-brown hair falling over his eyes that were like pure pools of sapphire that you could see yourself drowning in forever–
“Thanks, sweetie.” Queenie’s voice dripped with pure frivolousness as she shot you another smirk Newt couldn’t quite see.
“It’s no trouble,” he murmured, reaching with his tip-toes and looping the ribbon over the hook, seemingly unaware of the powers that little plant could possess if you only had the courage.
Your bravery quickly dissipated, however, as soon as the wizard stood by your side, shooting you a few side glances he thought you wouldn’t notice. He always did that when you made your rounds with him to feed the beasts in his case. Not that you minded, but you were hesitant to be forward with such a sensitive soul. He needed time was all…
“Hey Newt, you oughta try this, I think you’ll like it.” Jacob nodded with a smile to the pastry in your hand, “Y/N’s a fan, but I’m needin’ more test subjects.”
Rather than taking the sweet delight from your hand, you stood frigid in surprise as Newt leaned downward and hesitantly took a bite of the treat from your hand, his herbal eyes darting to yours with a glint of playfulness, accompanied by a goofy smirk that you couldn’t resist giggling in response. “Careful!” you snickered, cupping your hand to catch a few drips of the gooey syrup from hitting the floor as Newt pulled back slightly, licking the excess frosting from his lips with a deep chuckle that you found a bit contagious. The two of you looked at one another with childlike grins and giggles, and in the moment you seared the image of how precious the wizard looked into your mind, saving it for a rainy day.
Jacob chuckled. “Need a napkin bud?” he offered, Newt blinking in apparent surprise, having seemingly forgotten it wasn’t just the two of you in the kitchen, his eyes immediately darting to the floor as he nodded a thanks and took the napkin.
Queenie appeared to sense the shift in Newt’s thinking, but smiled and nodded encouragingly. “Like it honey?”
Newt continued chewing, a blush creeping over his freckled cheeks as he attempted to speak through the doughy dessert. “Y-yes, quite,” he responded, glancing your way shyly. “Though a bit m-messy, if I may add,” his lips twitched into a bit of a smirk.
Jacob snapped his fingers with a smile. “Thicker frosting’ll fix that, I gotcha.”
Queenie had not-so-sneakily been watching the itching for interaction between you and Newt, your hand fidgeting and his feet shuffling, shy glances and smiles from the both of you. Her grayish green eyes lit up quite suddenly, and she casually tucked a strawberry blonde curl behind her ear. “Jacob, before dinner’s ready, would you help me finish decorating the parlor?” she asked sweetly, eyes darting to the two of you suggestively as she spoke.
Not quite understanding what she meant, Jacob shrugged with a slight smile, “Well sure sweetie, we can do that–”
“Great I know just where I want the garland,” she cooed, quickly pulling Jacob along to the opposite room, closing the door with a flick of her wand behind her, but not before throwing you one last mischievous grin.
The kitchen was engulfed in silence, save for the boiling of dinner on the stove and the slightly annoyed sigh you let out.
“Um, the creatures have been alone for a while, I’m s-sure they could use some c-company.” Newt offered, obviously a bit anxious as he shifted his weight from one foot to the other and adjusting his blue coat collar a bit. “The Mooncalves miss you,” he added, timidly offering his arm.
You draped your arm over his gratefully with a relaxed grin, “That sounds wonderful, I miss them too, I–” you gulped and halted upon realizing the case was in the living room…under the mistletoe-adorned doorway…. that you two were currently walking under. It was now or never.
Newt must have noticed your hesitation, as he stopped in the doorway with you, looking to you with concern written in his features. “A-are you alright Y/N?”
It was like caffeine-fed Billywigs fluttered in your tummy, your nerves pushing you to dash toward the suitcase and avoid your instincts rather than fulfill your desires under the holiday plant. You unhooked your trembling arm and practically raced to the suitcase.
“Y-yeah! By the way I think the Niffler got ahold of my earrings again and I–”
“Y/N,” he interjected breathlessly, head shaking in apparent wonderment as you gave him a quizzical look, his warm freckled hand snatching your wrist, quickly pulling you into an unexpected embrace and before you could respond–
His lips met yours, plush and warm, with a hint of cinnamon from his dessert taste-testing. Initially you froze, shocked yet ecstatic that this was really happening–but when Newt’s hands cupped your jaw, his fingers slightly tilting you closer, you quickly began to melt into his touch and respond with just as much fervor you had built up inside of you. Your hands instinctively wrapped around his neck, fingers tangling in his honey-golden curls, pulling a slight sigh of contentment from the wizard that made your heart leap.
Eventually, you both pulled away, quietly gasping for air as you slid your hands down to his shoulders, unable to suppress a jubilant smile at your close proximity. Newt’s slightly swollen lips parted as he struggled to form words.
“F-forgive the interruption…” he murmured, his eyes darting to the precariously hanging plant above before meeting your gaze with a shaky breath, his mind clearly spinning. “M-mistletoe is t-traditionally you, um, used for—” he swallowed abruptly as you gingerly pressed a finger to his lips.
“Newton Artemis Fido Scamander,” you smirked in delight as he slightly shivered from thrill at your gentle use of his full name. He was positively glowing, his cheeks dusting a light pink in response to your touch as you traced the curve of his cheekbone. “I assure you there will never be a day I mind that kind of interruption.”
“O-oh,” he swallowed thickly, his glossy eyes raising from the floor to meet your own, smiling timidly, “Good t-to…to know.”
You practically beamed at his response, wordlessly snagging the collar of his blue coat and gingerly lowering him until his lips hovered over yours, his gaze flickering to your half-lidded one as if asking permission before delicately enveloping your lips in another kiss, giving a light hum of satisfaction when you pulled him even closer.
Across on the other side of the room, behind the door opened just a crack, a grin spread across Queenie’s face.
He turned from the fireplace to face her, pausing in his candle lighting. “Yes, hun?”
“We’re hanging the rest of the mistletoe after dinner.”
Hope you enjoyed!
Holiday Newt fluff is flowing through my veins, feel free to request here!