Art books

20th Anniversary Celebration of the Eric Carle Picture Book Art Museum

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If you have a child, have spent time with a child recently, or have been a child for the past few decades, you probably know Eric Carle in some way. Chances are you’ve read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse, maybe Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? His artistic style and child-friendly prose are easily recognizable.

For some reason, I don’t remember Eric Carle as part of my childhood at all. My infancy/infancy/infancy was in the early 1980s, and when I think back to the books I remember, or look at pictures, Carle and his books just don’t show up. I’m not even sure I even knew him until college or university, when I was babysitting for different families. Without fail there would be a pile of Carle hardback books or picture books to read – and I fell in love.

Although all the hardbacks and picture books were so well done, that damn hungry caterpillar stole my heart, as it certainly does a lot of other people. Even when I was excited to find a “new” book by Carle that I hadn’t known before, I always came back to the story of the caterpillar who ate a bunch of delicious snacks, ate a leaf and felt better yet again, built a chrysalis (it’s called a cocoon in the book, but – that’s where my inner science nerd comes out – butterflies usually make a chrysalis and moths make cocoons), and emerged as a beautiful colorful butterfly. There was something so basic about the story, but so good. And art! All of Carle’s art draws your attention to him; texture, colors, brushstrokes and collages – there’s so much to figure out, but it’s never overwhelming for me.

When I was pregnant I bought an assortment of books, stroller/car seat toys, themed clothes, dolls – even my baby shower cake had the iconic caterpillar on it. One of my best friends made a quilt for my son who is sitting on his bed today, with the chenille and dots painted all over it. When my son had speech therapy through early intervention, Brown bear, brown bear was a favorite of hers and was a valuable tool her therapist used in language construction and acquisition. So you could say that Carle has a special place in my life – our lives.

But did you know that there is also the Eric Carle Picture Book Art Museum? It opened in 2002 to ensure that the art form of picture book illustration would be preserved and celebrated. One of the Museum’s goals is to share and encourage the love of picture books. They have educational picture book programs, encourage visitors of all ages to read and create their own art, and encourage picture book art that reflects our diverse world.

Celebrating Carle and his museum

June 25e would have been Eric Carle’s 93rd birthday. This summer, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art also celebrates its 20e birthday. What does that mean? A whole summer of goodness Eric Carle! Activities (on-site and virtual), exhibitions and forthcoming books are just a few of the things planned. You can view a full calendar of activities covering the next six months here.

It’s summer, and who doesn’t love summer arts and crafts? To help celebrate Carle, the museum has partnered with Brightly to offer fun printables, crafts, a downloadable birthday activity kit, and activities you or the kids in your life can do – check out – them here. June 25e, there’s also a live virtual story hour and anniversary event with authors Angela Diterlizzi, Alissa Holder & Zulekah Holder-Young, Rafael López and Grace Lin. Not only will there be story time, but a tour of the museum, interactive song and dance, and a craft activity! You can register here.

If you’re looking to add to your book collection, there are non-fiction hardbacks from The World of Eric Carle: How does an egg hatch?and How does a caterpillar change? It’s a great way to introduce life cycles to young children. For older children and adults there is also a recently revised edition of The art of Eric Carle, with new pages of illustrations, essays and more. There is also something to look forward to — on February 14, 2023, a new book will be published: Eric loves animals: just like youwith dozens of previously unreleased pieces by Carle himself.

Whether you’re a huge Eric Carle fan or not, there’s no denying his impact on children’s literature. His iconic art and great stories can be found everywhere and continue to be favorites over the years. With so many fun activities planned, there is something in the world of Eric Carle for everyone to enjoy this summer.

If you’re looking for even more Eric Carle fun, check out this article on summer activities and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and this article on Carle’s top 10 books.


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