A trip to a museum is much like climbing into a great book with a storyline of unexpected twists and turns. Yesterday was no exception. I visited the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts. It has the best bookstore I have ever been in, and I am really picky when it comes to books. My husband actually told me one day that I was a book snob. Ouch! “I’m just picky because I know a good book when I read one” I told him. And, so many children’s books that I read are…well, let’s just say they’re ok. Few have the power to make my heart race or put a lump in my throat. So many of the books at the Eric Carle Museum do just that.
Before I went into the bookstore I checked out their current exhibit. It was the illustrations of Fred Marcellino. I admired his artwork of Puss in Boots. Then I turned a corner and was face-to-face with the original artwork of The Story of Little Babaji. I was thunderstruck. This is one of the best books, ever; one that I have read over and over again, one that the children beg for and help chant the words. I do play performances about this book for families.
And there I was, two inches away from the tigers running around the tree and Mamaji making pancakes. Unexpected twists and turns at a museum, indeed. Oh, there was more. The museum displayed recent acquisitions, one of which was Paul O Zelinsky’s painting of Rapunzel, the final page of the book with Rapunzel and her family. Wow! Here was another great children’s book that I read, displaying the original art. There’s nothing better than the real thing, seeing something that you have only known and enjoyed in pictures. Museums do that.
After that heart stopping experience, I finally got to the bookstore. Their collection of children’s books, chapter reading books and YA books is impressive. Two hours of reading and exploring books hardly encompassed all I wanted to read. The three books I had to buy were Take Away the A by Michael Escoffier, The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc, and My Grandfather’s Coat retold by Jim Aylesworth.
Pleasure reading can be full of learning. The best part is that learning is a pleasure within a good book.