For book lovers and art lovers, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts has it all. There are three galleries of rotating art exhibits, the best book store-hands down, and a host of well known authors and illustrators who do special presentations and book signings. There’s always something happening at The Carle.
And every single time I visit I feel a bit overwhelmed in the best of ways, like a child at Christmas, because there is just so much. Saturday was no exception.
One of my favorite picture books is Hector Fox and the Giant Quest by Astrid Sheckels. The text is rich in language – words like ‘quest’ – to complement a well written, exciting story. As soon as I read aloud from the book,
“I wish fairy tales were real sighed little Lucy.” And that was all it took for Hector and his band of merry friends to go in search of a real giant.
Preschoolers are riveted, waiting, wondering. Words can do that, particularly good ones- like Hector Fox and the Giant Quest. I am reminded of what E.B. White said about writing to children:
“Never write down to children. Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down.” -E.B. White-
The illustrations are equally stunning. They bring the text alive. Astrid Sheckels was there, at the Eric Carle Museum, to read her book and give a drawing demonstration. I was fortunate to arrive early and spend time with the author. There are more Hector Fox books forthcoming!
Watching an illustrator draw characters is fascinating. Of all the books I’ve read over thirty years, I haven’t watched the artist draw the characters – live!
Of course the children wanted her to draw Hector, and also Lucy. When the sketch was finished, I suggested that she sign it. Good idea!
And I was the lucky one to get to take the sketch home! On my way out of the library, I was directed to the upper corner of the doorway. Very cool!
The museum’s main exhibit was Paddington Bear. This is the first time Paddington’s original illustrations, books, and memorabilia have been on exhibit in the United States. I was in my glory, as I read Paddington Bear books to my children, over and over. I always wanted to ride on a London bus with Paddington:
And, I will always marvel at seeing original artwork, up close, particularly when it’s familiar from a story.
I loved reading Michael Bond’s letters of acceptance from the publisher. I wonder what a £75 royalty in 1958 would compare to, in 2018 dollars?
Other works of art from famous illustrators adorned another exhibit. This was a favorite by Leo and Diane Dillon:
There is always an exhibit on the art of Eric Carle. Two things struck me. One of my favorite books is The Tiny Seed, and I saw the original artwork:
The second thing that struck me was learning more about the time Eric Carle was an art student while in Nazi Germany. I will always remember that his high school art teacher, Fridolin Krauss, risked his own life to show Carle “forbidden art”, you know… Picasso, Klee, Matisse, and Kandinsky.
That changed Carle’s life.
What I did not know, and got to see, was the art Eric Carle was painting while studying under Krauss. Perhaps this painting will show you the talent Carle had back then, and why Krauss risked his life to show Carle more, much more.
I find this story one of the most moving stories of the twentieth century. I always find more at the Eric Carle Museum.
Fabulous post, Jennie.
Thank you so much, John.
Wow! The kids had to be thrilled. When I was little, the few times someone came to school or church to draw delighted me. Even those felt things…(hope you know what I mean, I don’t know what they’re called). Marvelous post, Jennie. Hugs
I know exactly what you mean. I think I was one of the kids who was thrilled 🙂. Thank you, Teagan.
What an amazing place!
Thank you, Denise. It really is!
How wonderful a day for everyone! I’d love to visit this museum.
Thank you, Tammy. I hope you get there one day. 🙂
What a wonderful experience!
It really was, Deborah. Thank you. 🙂
A terrific post, Jennie. I would love to visit this museum and hope to do so someday.
I hope you get a chance. Thank you, Robbie.
You were indeed lucky to have that artwork. What beautiful sketches. 🙂
Thank you! 🙂
You had me at Paddington. I wrote a post that was passsd to Michael Bonds great niece. A real ‘Too cool for school’ moment. Just lovely.
How wonderful that your post went to his niece. Wow! Thank you so much.
Oh Jennie you are so lucky to be able to go there!!!!
I really am lucky, Ritu! 🙂
In 1958, £75 would have bought a nice used car. Today’s equivalent value in pounds is £1,750, which is $2,300. However, in real terms, that £75 was worth a lot more then. My Dad earned less than £10 at that time, so it was a month’s pay for some workers. The trip looks great, and it was wonderful to see the talented artist at work.
Best wishes, Pete.
That should read £10 a week. 🙂
I assumed that’s what you meant. 🙂
Thank you for the detailed money comparison. Your Dad would have been shocked at that amount of money for writing a children’s book. The trip was truly wonderful. Best to you, Pete.
Another delightful and inspiring post. So many of my favorite books were written for children and teenagers. I need to visit this museum. And often!
My favorite books, too. If you check their website, you can plan a day when there’s an artist or writer or exhibit you like is there. Sometimes there are multiple authors at one event. Thanks so much, Will!
Thank you for the vicarious visit. I enjoyed every minute.
I’m so glad! You are welcome, Marlene. 🙂
A wonderful post about a favorite place that we often visit. Benjamin is fortunate to reside where frequent visiting is possible. Membership for the family was a gift that began when he was 2 years old. The memories will last a lifetime, which is more than worth the investment! Thank-you!
I am so glad to hear that, Ellen! Benjamin is one lucky guy, and you are too. Thank you so much. 🙂
It’s such a magical place! Thank you for sharing your truly memorable day, Jennie! – Susan
It really is, Susan. A pleasure to share! Thank you. 🙂
Thank you, Steve. 🙂
Wonderful, Jennie. I can imagine your excitement to be among the books and the art work. And Amherst is such a pretty part of the state.
I’m so glad you enjoyed this, Steve. And you are right about the excitement. Amherst and western MA really is a beautiful place.
LOVE this! 🙂 Check out my blog http://www.earlyyearsandbeyond.com xx
wow! What a lovely experience! Oh that my Lyla could be in your class! Godspeed my friend!
That is so nice, Michele. Thank you! I think Lyla could teach me a lot at the rabbit patch. 🙂
Love this post, Jennie. What a fabulous place!
Thank you, Dan. At the time they were aiming to have a Fisher House in every state. And now I think there are 70.
It’s on my ‘one-day’ list, Jennie. Thank you. You bring it to life for me.
I’m always happy to do that, Norah. Australia is on my ‘one-day’ list. 😀
It’s the ‘one-day’s that keep us wanting more. Perhaps we’ll meet in a wonderful place, one day. 🙂
I like that, Norah! 🙂
Reblogged this on Usborne Books and More With Niki and commented:
Who knew there was an Eric Carle museum??? I read The Very Hungry Caterpillar with my baby just the other day.
Thank you, Niki!
Sorry I missed this post earlier, it’s such a gem and makes me want to revisit the Eric Carle museum. I’m not familiar with the Hector Fox books, but I so enjoyed watching Astrid draw her main character. Glad you had another great visit!
I’m so glad you got to read this post. September 15th at the museum is a big day, as they celebrate 50 years of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Can you believe it has been 50 years? Wow!