The New York Public Library serves an extraordinarily diverse population; Ezra Jack Keats wrote about and for its youngest readers. NYPL President and CEO Anthony Marx says that Keats’s popularity with library users is a constant. Still, it must be gratifying to introduce his work to a new generation, as Marx does with the 1964 classic Whistle for Willie.
With its gentle charm, the story of Whistle for Willie seems simple: a little boy learns to whistle on a summer day. But it is in the details—Peter’s desire, effort and play—that Keats conveys the sense that acquiring a new skill is a rich and thoughtful experience worthy of our attention.
Bonus: The science of spinning, why dachshunds rule, and the secret of the whistle.
Whistle for Willie lends itself perfectly to class study: The way Peter learns to whistle parallels the process of kindergartners learning to read a story. In both activities, the effort pays off handsomely!