Ezra’s Books

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Goggles!

Macmillan (now Viking), 1969

Peter has found a rare treasure, a pair of old, beat-up motorcycle goggles. He and his best friend Archie are on their way to Archie’s front stoop with their prize when they run into a neighborhood gang that wants those goggles, too. What the bullies don’t understand is how hard it is to catch two smart boys and one crafty dog.

Take a Closer Look

Goggles-EssayThe story of Goggles! is about dealing with bullies, but in the hands of Ezra Jack Keats, it’s about much more. There’s Peter and Archie’s friendship, the loyalty of Willie the dog, the thrill of finding the goggles and the adrenaline rush of the boys’ escape. The bullies threaten physical harm—one punches Peter and knocks him down—but they prove to be little more than a backdrop for the boys’ courage and ingenuity. Adventures need bad guys, even in your own neighborhood.

Peter is growing up, and Ezra is showing us his widening world. Peter and Archie survey the landscape of tenements, vacant lots and graffiti from their hideout—composed of a hole in the ground, an industrial pipe and detritus. Ezra uses a little collage, but mostly paints in a graphic, expressive style with a broad but subtle color palette. In the muted, closed-in atmosphere, the bullies are shown as mainly elongated figures in shades of brown, while the brightest spots are the boys’ bright shirts and yellow goggles. It’s clear that the children feel at home in this blighted neighborhood, but their spirit and sense of adventure are anything but drab.

Look Beyond the Book

Characters in the Book