One of my heroes, a champion of childhood in general and picture books in particular, celebrates his birthday on Friday, June 25. Eric Carle started his illustration career in the 1950s with a position as a graphic designer in the promotion department of the New York Times. One of his ads caught the eye of author Bill Martin, Jr., and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? was the result of their collaboration. Many beloved classics followed, including The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
From Head to Toe, by Eric Carle
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, by Eric Carle
The Official Eric Carle website describes his illustrations as “distinctive and instantly recognizable. His art work is created in collage technique, using hand-painted papers, which he cuts and layers to form bright and cheerful images. Many of his books have an added dimension—die-cut pages, twinkling lights as in The Very Lonely Firefly, even the lifelike sound of a cricket’s song as in The Very Quiet Cricket – giving them a playful quality: a toy that can be read, a book that can be touched. Children also enjoy working in collage and many send him pictures they have made themselves, inspired by his illustrations. He receives hundreds of letters each week from his young admirers.”
Not only is Carle’s artwork playful, fun and inspiring, but the man himself has a beautiful message. If you’ve ever read one of Eric Carle’s books, or even if you haven’t, it is worthwhile to watch this video in which he discusses the origin of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and describes his love of color.
Thanks, Eric Carle, for your books that have entertained kids for generations!
Oh, and if you are traveling to or through Massachusetts this summer, you may want to consider a visit to The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA.