Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Book signing

Dear Friends,

I will be traveling to Massachusetts next month and visiting with friends and family. And on Sunday, August 23rd at Noon, I will be making my annual appearance at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art to sign books and say hello to visitors.

For more information about this event as well as many other happenings at the Museum, including an exhibition that has recently opened of my friend Tomie dePaola's work, please visit the Museum's web site.

I hope you will join us!
Eric Carle

Friday, July 24, 2009

End Sheets

The colorful patterns on the inside covers of my books are called end sheets or end papers. An end sheet is like a theatre curtain in that it appears at the beginning, before the play starts, and at the end, after the play has finished. I pay great attention to the design of my end sheets; they often reflect something about the book and set the tone for the story.

I am especially fond of the end papers in The Very Hungry Caterpillar, pieces of colorful paper with holes in them, because they remind me of how the book started: from punching holes with a hole puncher.

For me, designing the end sheets for each book is part of the challenge and the pleasure of creating a book.

Here are some examples:

From Head to Toe

Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me

1,2,3 to the Zoo

Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Farm Summer

In the second year of the Second World War — I had just turned 12, my maternal grandmother remembered from her youth a farm girl she had known. Off went a postcard: could Eric spend the summer vacation with her? Yes, came the reply. A small suitcase was packed. I traveled 4 hours by train and walked another 2 to a tiny village consisting of perhaps 8 farms. Maria, my grandmother’s friend, was an elderly unmarried woman living with her 90 year old widowed father, whom I called Grandfather.

Their living quarters, barn and stables were all in the same building, under one roof. They owned 3 cows, 2 pigs, a dozen chickens with a proud rooster and several bee hives in the abutting garden. In the garden grew all their vegetables and fruit that they needed.

There was no indoor plumbing. There was a water pump inside the kitchen. No hot water, no bathtub, no water closet, no cars, no refrigerator. I had a guest bed in the old man’s room. I still remember him snoring dreadfully and getting up in the middle of the night to use the chamber pot that would be emptied in the morning.

Maria worked until midnight baking bread, darning socks, washing and cleaning and then getting up at 4 in the morning to take her old bicycle and pedaling to the nearby forest to pick mushrooms or berries. Not for us, these were washed and carefully packed and delivered by her on the bicycle to the nearest city to be sold to the “rich city folk”.

My summer vacation with Maria and Grandfather will remain one of the most glorious experiences of my youth. Learning to milk a cow. Watching the bees around their hives in Maria’s garden. Searching for eggs in the barn. Picking wild blueberries and cranberries. Feeding noisy pigs. Quietly spending hours in an abandoned stone quarry where I watched frogs and salamanders in puddles of water. Observing the local cheese maker making cheeses. And, of course, enjoying the robust, yet delicious meals.

All this and more in this sheltered and pastoral place while a murderous war was ravaging Europe.

-Eric Carle