Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Eric Carle

Today is Eric Carle's birthday! To the right is his self portrait from Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrator's Talk to Children About Their Art. I love how he has the butterfly from The Very Hungry Caterpillar coming out of his head! The Very Hungry Caterpillar will be 40 years old next year (and it doesn't look a day past 20). I think it is more popular with children today than ever before. Often when introducing children's literature to preservice teachers, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of the few books they remember as a child, which is a great place to start.

In Artist to Artist, Carle states, "Ever since I was very young, as far back as I can remember, I have loved making pictures. I knew even as a child that, when I grew up, I would be an artist of some kind. The lovely feeling of my pencil touching paper; a crayon making a star shape in my sketchbook, or my brush dipping into bright and colorful paints--these things affect me as joyfully today as they did all those years ago" (p. 26). I think that's all any of us can hope for...that the work we do today, in some way, fulfills the dreams we had for ourselves as a child.

The proceeds from Artist to Artist benefit the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. I have not had the opportunity to visit the museum yet, but I hope to one day soon. Located in Amherst, MA, it has 40,000 sq. ft. of space dedicated to the picture book art of Eric Carle and other contemporary artists. You can take a virtual tour here.

Eric Carle's website has many resources, but I especially like the slide shows of how he creates his tissue paper collages and picture books. There are also videos of Carle creating the wall murals for the Eric Carle museum...fascinating stuff. There are also photo albums with pictures of Carle throughout his childhood. Kids would really enjoy them!

As he states on his website, Carle does not do as many personal appearances as he used to, but you can watch an interview on the Reading Rockets website. In the interview, Carle conveys the story behind the creation of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and he speculates as to why it is so popular with kids. Hundreds, if not thousands of websites have lesson plans and activities using Eric Carle's books.

Happy Birthday, Eric Carle....and many more!

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