Author/Illustrator: Ezra Jack Keats
Publisher: Penguin Group
Pub. Date: 1978
The Trip by Ezra Jack Keats is one of the lesser known titles by this great children's book author/illustrator. I came across it quite by accident in our local library and was delighted to discover it just in time for Halloween. Frankly, I had all but dispaired of finding a good urban picture book with a Halloween element.
Louie has just moved into a new apartment. Since he doesn't have any friend yet so he retreats to his room and builds a diorama. Using his imagination, Louie flies through the miniature world he has constructed, meeting up with friends he misses. It is Halloween and and he takes his costumed friends on a plane trip through his former neighborhood. When his mom's voice and cries of "Trick or treat!" make their way through the wall of Louie's imagination, he ventures outside to discover some new friends waiting for him.
Keats' book works on so many levels, it is a shame it is out of print. It is story of friendship, of loneliness, artistic creativity and of the power of imagination all wrapped into one. Keats' trademark illustrative style shines as he transports us from a real world grounded by oil paints to the imaginary one of collage, photographs, crayon drawings and marbled skies.
As in all of Keats' books, the urban landscape is essential to the story's world. Skyscrapers full of windows are the backdrop for Louie's imaginary world and his apartment building frames his reality. The opening page reminds us just how much of the urban life revolves around street activity when Louie is disappointed to discover, "there weren't even any steps in front of the door to sit on." How is an urban kid to make friends if he has no stoop from which to survey the world! When you see the world from this perspective Halloween becomes the perfect holiday to introduce him to the neighborhood. After all, is there any other holiday in which so much of the celebration takes place outside on the sidewalks?
Despite this book being out of print, I bet it The Trip is in many libraries around the country, thanks to its famous author. Check out a copy before Halloween. You won't be sorry you did.
Visit the official website of the Ezra Jack Keats foundation. Here is the page for The Trip.
In NYC, The Jewish Museum had Keats exhibit. You can read about his art here.
Louie appears in other Keats books, including Louie's Search, Louie and Regards to the Man in the Moon.
Watch some kids talk about the book: