Friday, May 1, 2009

Eric Carle - Author and Illustrator

Eric Carle is a master storyteller and illustrator. His artistic technique is collage. I have read every Eric Carle book I find at the library to my children and purchased as many as I can afford. Why do I like them so much?

Many of his stories are interactive. For example, Eric Carle wrote From Head to Toe, which introduces all the body parts to the children and has them move them. So, while you are reading your child gets up and does the actions mimicked in the pictures. Any small child would love this.

Another of his stories, The Very Busy Spider is touchable. This story is about a spider that lands on a fence post and begins to spin a web. In fact those words I just wrote are the primary text of the story. The web and the fly illustrated in the book are prepared with raised print and as the story progresses the area of raised print is enlarged as the web enlarges. This story is not only interesting because of the raised print but because it allows the child to “read” the story. The words are simple and repeat on each page, allowing the child to help you read the story when you pause and let them fill in the next words. Children adore being allowed to participate.

The Very Clumsy Click Beetle is enjoyed by my children who cannot wait to arrive on the page that makes the click. They sit breathlessly waiting for the moment when they turn the page and the beetle clicks, flying through the air. No matter how many times we do this they become excited.

The Very Lonely Firefly is loved because on the last page, the fireflies light the sky where there are cut outs and lights on their bodies. These small touches display how in touch Eric Carle is with children and what interests them. Children want to be trusted with the ability to participate and Eric Carle’s books not only allow but encourage participation.

Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jr. have also collaborated on some books that are adored by children. Perhaps it is the simplicity or again, the repetition of phrases that facilitates that love but enjoy them they do. Even very small children, one year old, will enjoy these books. I believe in these stories Eric Carle demonstrates his love for animals and his concern for those that are facing imminent extinction. They are:
Polar Bear, Polar Bear what do you hear?
Brown Bear Brown Bear what do you see?
Baby Bear, Baby Bear what do you see?
Panda Bear, Panda Bear what do you see?

One of our favorite books that may probably over look is a collection of poems that he illustrated. The title is Animals, Animals. The poets range from Emily Bronte to children’s poet Jack Prelutsky. I have worn this book out reading it to my babies. My children are now able to quote poems they may not have ever loved without the beautiful pictures that accompany the words.

The range of books that Eric Carle has written or illustrated is quite varied in their formats. He has board books for young children to teach first words. He has books that are fables. He illustrates poems. Diversity is not something that frightens him but that which he embraces. Often his stories teach us to trust ourselves or to love the diversity around us as in A House for Hermit Crab. His books are published in Spanish, English and Braille. He just wants children to enjoy art and stories and this desire translated into the various formats, I find admirable.

This love for picture books as the jumping point for reading has translated into a museum I wish I could visit. He and his wife have created a museum dedicated to picture book art. There are interactive programs there for children and best of all, a library with stories parents can pick up and then sit and read with their children. I cannot imagine a better setting for introducing children to both art and reading.

One of his books can be used to introduce the art of collage to your children; You can make a collage – A very simple how to book by Eric Carle. When you purchase this book and I am not sure you can anymore, it comes with tissue paper designed by Eric Carle to use for your creations, but even without that part of the book, you can still use the instructions to make your own creations with tissue paper you purchase. This is a great rainy day activity to perform with your child, introducing them to art and creation.

Eric Carle has a blog. It allows us access to his human side and puts a face to this author/illustrator that we’ve gotten to know through his stories. It’s also somewhere to go to say thanks for the hours of joy his books have brought the world. The web address is:

His official website is:

As Eric Carle has written over 70 books, I will not attempt to list them all here. Look for them in future blog entries as I will try to include them as I go. I would recommend checking them out from your library. His books will charm your children.

1 comment:

  1. I am so excited that I have found your blog! This is awesome! I am looking forward to reading your posts and the books you recommend. Now I just need more time to actually do it! :-)