The Real Deal at a Museum

A trip to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA is a wonder in itself. It never fails that I am ‘blown away’, as my anticipation or expectation is fulfilled, yet not at all in the way I imagined.

My first visit, nearly ten years ago, was a shocker.  I walked into the art exhibit and was face-to-face with an original illustration of Ezra Jack Keats from Peter’s Chair…in cut-out linoleum.  Imagine that!  I had read this book to my preschool class for years, yet who would know by reading the book that the illustrations were done in this fashion.  I certainly didn’t!

My repeated visits, each one, held a similar experience.  Plus, I walked away feeling as if I had been the first person to see the Grand Canyon.

While children’s picture books are a staple in libraries, schools and homes, few people have had the privilege and pleasure of seeing ‘the real deal’.  I am one of the lucky ones. This week was no exception.  I saw the art of Robert McCloskey, the illustrator of Make Way For Ducklings, Blueberries For Sal, Burt Dow, Deep-Water Man, and many other books.  Here is what I saw:




Look at the white paint on the whale’s tail.  It is raised and thick.  Look at the yellow paint from inside the whale’s stomach.  Yes, it is raised and thick, too.  This is just like the best art of Jackson Pollock.image

I have seen the tiny pencil lines along the tigers in The Story of Little Babaji, and the brush strokes of the sun in Madeline.  I have seen how vivid the ink lines are on the bear in Blueberries For Sal.

There is quite a big difference between the Eric Carle Museum and an art museum; where an art museum allows one to see recognizable art, the Eric Carle Museum allows one to see, two inches away, art from everyday reading.  That in itself is remarkable.

Watching the Red Sox on television can’t compare with being at Fenway Park.  The same holds true with a live music concert at a symphony hall or a gymnasium.

Real is real, and that translates into sparking every emotion, and somehow validates the deepest feelings of the viewer or listener.  The Eric Carle Museum does just that.

Next to reading aloud in my preschool class for the past thirty-two years, a trip to the Eric Carle Museum, including their terrific bookstore that is the top end, is the best.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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32 Responses to The Real Deal at a Museum

  1. I didn’t know Eric Carle had a museum of his work. How wonderful. I forget that until the past thirty years or so, illustrations were handmade works of art (versus digital art). Love that!

  2. M. L. Kappa says:

    I’d absolutely love to visit this museum! Your post was the next best thing!

  3. Awesome pictures, Jennie! Thank you for sharing! 🙂 xxx

  4. jonna ellis holston says:

    Lovely post, Jennie. I would love to see this art!

  5. frenchc1955 says:

    Thank you for sharing your trip to this wonderful place! I will put in on my places to see list.

  6. miladyronel says:

    Awesome pics, thanks for sharing. It must’ve been a great experience to see favourite artworks up close like that 🙂

  7. I say: ‘art is art is art’ just like you-know-who’s ‘a rose is a rose is a rose’
    Going through old books of my folks’ I’m finding gorgeous lithographic illustrations in classics as well as kids books…and the amount of work involved for ‘just’ illustrating these editions is incredible to me.
    Just a thought off the top of my head.

  8. Wow! I didn’t know this museum existed. Thanks. ❤ Blessings Jennie to you and all the kids you read for.

  9. What a wonderful trip, Jennie! I didn’t know Eric Carle had a museum either. Book illustrators simply amaze me, there is such wonderful art in books. I was so impressed when the illustrator that worked on my children’s book brought those characters to life. I can only imagine how wonderful the handmade illustrations were to view. Great post!

  10. That is such an amazing experience, to see the original work of art that a print is made from for a book. No wonder you were thrilled.

  11. Is the old man with the paint tin a pollock? Awesome either way.

  12. Children’s book art is just so awesome…I find that where non-children’s illustrations may entertain or make one think, children’s book illustrations can make you “fall into” them….enveloping the senses and embracing the emotions….This post make me wish I lived in the Northeast….

  13. I ❤ the Eric Carle Museum, sounds like you had a great visit. As part of the workshop I attended last April, we got to see some gorgeous up-close illustrations that are usually kept in special storage—so much fun!

  14. reocochran says:

    Oh, how I love Eric Carle! Yes, to museums and books, Jennie. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one I go back to often. I forget the chameleon books name? Happy week of new beginnings to you, Jennie. xo

  15. Mireya says:

    Makes me love texture and color even more!

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