Eric Carle (1929-) Biography
Personal, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1929, in Syracuse, NY; Education: Graduated from Akademie der bildenden Künste (Stuttgart, Germany), 1950.
U.S. Information Center, Stuttgart, Germany, poster designer, 1950-52; New York Times, New York, NY, graphic designer, 1952-56; L. W. Frohlich & Co., New York, NY, art director, 1956-63; freelance writer, illustrator, and designer, 1963—. Guest instructor, Pratt Institute, 1964. Military service: U.S. Army, 1952-54.
New York Times Ten Best Illustrated Books of the Year selection, 1969, for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Outstanding Children's Books of the Year selection, 1974, for My Very First Library; Deutscher Jugendpreis, for 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo! and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, both 1970, and 1972, for Do You Want to Be My Friend?; first prize for picture books, International Children's Book Fair, 1970, for 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo!, 1972, for Do You Want to Be My Friend?, and for Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me; Children's Book of the Year awards, Child Study Association, 1977, for Do You Want to Be My Friend?, The Very Busy Spider, and The Very Lonely Firefly; American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) awards, both 1970, for Pancakes, Pancakes and The Very Hungry Caterpillar; Grand Prix des Treize selection, 1972, for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and for Do You Want to Be My Friend? and Have You Seen My Cat?, both 1973; Nakamori Reader's Prize, 1975, for The Very Hungry Caterpillar; AIGA certificate of excellence, 1981, for The Honeybee and the Robber; silver medal from the city of Milan, Italy, awarded 1989 for The Very Quiet Cricket; Heinrich-Wolgast prize, German Education and Science Union, 1996, for My Apron; Medallion award, University of Southern Mississippi, 1997; medallion from DeGrumond Collection, University of Southern Mississippi, 1997; best book award, 1997, for From Head to Toe, and platinum book award, 1999, for You Can Make a Collage, both from Oppenheim Toy Portfolio; Regina Medal, Catholic Library Association, 1999; Outstanding Friend of Children award, Pittsburgh Children's Museum, 1999; Literary Lights for Children award, Boston Public Library, 2000; Japan Picture Book Awards translation winner, 2000, for Hello, Red Fox ; Officer's Cross, Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, 2001; Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, American Library Association, 2003. Also recipient of numerous other awards, including awards from New York Art Directors Show, New York Type Directors Show, Society of Illustrators Show, Best Book Jacket of the Year Show, and Carnegie Award for Excellence in Video for Children. Notable citations, including Child Study Association citation, 1970, for Pancakes, Pancakes; American Library Association (ALA) notable book, for The Very Busy Spider, and 1971, for Do You Want to Be My Friend?; 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing selection, for The Very Quiet Cricket, and Gift List selections, 1971, for Do You Want to Be My Friend?, and 1972, for Secret Birthday Message, all from New York Public Library; ALA notable book, for The Very Busy Spider, and 1971, for Do You Want to Be My Friend?; Brooklyn Museum of Art citation, 1973, for The Very Hungry Caterpillar; Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children designation, for A House for Hermit Crab; National Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies designation, 1977, for The Grouchy Ladybug; Children's Choices award, Children's Book Council, for The Very Lonely Firefly, 1984, for Brown Bear, Brown Bear (both with International Reading Association) and 1987, for Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me; Parents Choice award, 1986, for Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me, and 1988, for The Mixed-up Chameleon (paperback); Jane Addams Children's Book Honorary Award, 1987, for All in a Day; Booklist Children's Editor's Choice designation, for Animals, Animals, and Best Books of the '80s choice, for The Very Busy Spider, both 1989; Parenting magazine certificate of excellence, 1989, for Animals, Animals; California Children's Book and Video award, 1990, for The Very Quiet Cricket (picture book category); Redbook top ten children's books of the year, 1989, for Animals, Animals, and 1990, for The Very Quiet Cricket; Parents magazine Best Kid's Books award, 1989, for Animals, Animals, and 1995, for The Very Lonely Firefly; Buckeye Children's Book Award, Ohio Council of the International Reading Association, 1993, for The Very Quiet Cricket; Association of Booksellers Children Bookseller's Choices award, 1995, for The Very Hungry Caterpillar board book; David McCord Children's Literature citation, Framingham State College/Nobscot Reading Council of the International Reading Association, 1995; The Very Lonely Firefly named a Kansas City Reading Circle selection, 1996; National Parenting Publications award, 1998, for You Can Make a Collage; Bank Street College Best Books award, 1998, for Hello, Red Fox; numerous titles selected for American Bookseller's Pick of the List. Additional awards for The Very Busy Spider include Library of Congress Advisory Committee recommended title; Best Books for Children selection, R. R. Bowker and Co.; Children's Editor's choice, Booklist; Horn Book Fanfair title; California Reading Initiative title. The Very Hungry Caterpillar named Book of the Year by the California Reading Initiative, and named among England's best books, 1971. Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me was awarded the gold medal during the Bratslavia Biennial of Illustration. Recipient of honorary degrees from College of Our Lady the Elms, Chicopee, MA, and Niagara University, Niagara, NY.
The Say-with-Me ABC Book, Holt (New York, NY), 1967. 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo, World Publishing (Cleveland, OH), 1968.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, World Publishing (Cleveland, OH), 1969, Philomel (New York, NY), 1996.
Pancakes, Pancakes, Knopf (New York, NY), 1970, Aladdin (New York, NY), 2005.
The Tiny Seed, Crowell (New York, NY), 1970, published as The Tiny Seed and the Giant Flower, Nelson (London, England), 1970.
Do You Want to Be My Friend?, Crowell (New York, NY), 1971.
The Secret Birthday Message, Crowell (New York, NY), 1972.
The Very Long Tail (folding book), Crowell (New York, NY), 1972.
The Very Long Train (folding book), Crowell (New York, NY), 1972.
Walter the Baker: An Old Story Retold and Illustrated by Eric Carle, Knopf (New York, NY), 1972.
The Rooster Who Set Out to See the World, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1972, published as Rooster's Off to See the World, Picture Book Studio (Natick, MA), 1987.
Have You Seen My Cat?, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1973.
All about Arthur (an Absolutely Absurd Ape), F. Watts (New York, NY), 1974.
My Very First Library, Crowell (New York, NY), 1974.
The Mixed-up Chameleon, Crowell (New York, NY), 1975.
Eric Carle's Storybook: Seven Tales by the Brothers Grimm, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1976.
The Grouchy Ladybug, Crowell (New York, NY), 1977, published as The Bad-tempered Ladybird, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1977.
(Reteller) Seven Stories by Hans Christian Andersen, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1978.
Watch Out! A Giant!, Philomel (New York, NY), 1978.
Twelve Tales from Aesop: Retold and Illustrated, Philomel (New York, NY), 1980.
The Honeybee and the Robber: A Moving Picture Book, Philomel (New York, NY), 1981.
Catch the Ball, Philomel (New York, NY), 1982, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1982.
Let's Paint a Rainbow, Philomel (New York, NY), 1982, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1982.
What's for Lunch?, Philomel (New York, NY), 1982, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1982.
The Very Busy Spider, Philomel (New York, NY), 1985.
All around Us, Picture Book Studio (Natick, MA), 1986.
Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me, Picture Book Studio (Natick, MA), 1986.
A House for Hermit Crab, Picture Book Studio (Natick, MA), 1987.
Eric Carle's Treasury of Classic Stories for Children, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1988.
Eric Carle's Animals, Animals, edited by Laura Whipple, Philomel (New York, NY), 1989.
The Very Quiet Cricket, Philomel (New York, NY), 1990.
Eric Carle's Dragons, Dragons (also see below), edited by Laura Whipple, Philomel (New York, NY), 1991.
Draw Me a Star, Philomel (New York, NY), 1992.
Today Is Monday, Philomel (New York, NY), 1993.
My Apron: A Story from My Childhood, Philomel (New York, NY), 1994.
The Very Lonely Firefly, Philomel (New York, NY), 1995.
I See a Song, Crowell (New York, NY), 1973, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1996.
Little Cloud, Philomel (New York, NY), 1996.
The Art of Eric Carle, Philomel (New York, NY), 1996.
The Very Special World of Eric Carle, Penguin Putnam (New York, NY), 1996.
From Head to Toe, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1997.
Flora and the Tiger: Nineteen Very Short Stories from My Life, Philomel (New York, NY), 1997.
Hello, Red Fox, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.
You Can Make a Collage, Klutz (Palo Alto, CA), 1998.
The Eric Carle Library, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.
The Very Clumsy Click Beetle, Putnam (New York, NY), 1999.
Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too?, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.
Dream Snow, Putnam (New York, NY), 2000.
"Slowly, Slowly, Slowly," Said the Sloth, Philomel (New York, NY), 2002.
(With Kazuo Iwamura) Where Are You Going? To See My Friend!, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Mister Seahorse, Philomel (New York, NY), 2004.
Eric Carle's Dragons, Dragons and Other Creatures That Never Were, edited by Laura Whipple, Puffin (New York, NY), 2004.
Ten Little Rubber Ducks, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.
"MY VERY FIRST LIBRARY" SERIES; SELF-ILLUSTRATED
My Very First Book of Colors, Crowell (New York, NY), 1974, Philomel (New York, NY), 2005.
My Very First Book of Numbers, Crowell (New York, NY), 1974.
My Very First Book of Shapes, Crowell (New York, NY), 1974, Philomel (New York, NY), 2005.
My Very First Book of Words, Crowell (New York, NY), 1974.
My Very First Book of Food, Crowell (New York, NY), 1986.
My Very First Book of Growth, Crowell (New York, NY), 1986.
My Very First Book of Heads and Tails, Crowell (New York, NY), 1986.
My Very First Book of Homes, Crowell (New York, NY), 1986.
My Very First Book of Motion, Crowell (New York, NY), 1986.
My Very First Book of Sounds, Crowell (New York, NY), 1986.
My Very First Book of Tools, Crowell (New York, NY), 1986.
My Very First Book of Touch, Crowell (New York, NY), 1986.
Sune Engelbrektson, Gravity at Work and Play, Holt (New York, NY), 1963.
Sune Engelbrektson, The Sun Is a Star, Holt (New York, NY), 1963.
Bill Martin, Jr., If You Can Count to Ten, Holt (New York, NY), 1964.
Aesop's Fables for Modern Readers, Pauper Press, 1965.
Louise Bachelder, editor, Nature Thoughts, Pauper Press, 1965.
Lila Perl, Red-Flannel Hash and Shoo-Fly Pie: America's Regional Foods and Festivals, World Publishers, 1965.
Samm S. Baker, Indoor and Outdoor Grow-It Book, Random House, 1966.
Louise Bachelder, editor, On Friendship, Pauper Press, 1966.
Bill Martin, Jr., Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Holt (New York, NY), 1967, reprinted, 1992.
Carl H. Voss, In Search of Meaning: Living Religions of the World, World Publishers, 1968.
Nora Roberts Wainer, The Whale in a Jail, Funk, 1968.
William Knowlton, The Boastful Fisherman, Knopf (New York, NY), 1970.
Bill Martin, Jr., A Ghost Story, Holt (New York, NY), 1970.
Eleanor O. Heady, Tales of the Nimipoo from the Land of the Nez Pierce Indians, World Publishing 1970.
Aileen Fisher, Feathered Ones and Furry, Crowell (New York, NY), 1971.
George Mendoza, The Scarecrow Clock, Holt (New York, NY), 1971.
Vanishing Animals (posters), F. Watts (New York, NY), 1972.
Aileen Fisher, Do Bears Have Mothers Too?, Crowell (New York, NY), 1973, published as Animals and Their Babies, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1974.
Isaac Bashevis Singer, Why Noah Chose the Dove, translated by Elizabeth Shub, Farrar, Straus, 1974.
Norma Green, reteller, The Hole in the Dike, Crowell (New York, NY), 1975.
Norton Juster, Otter Nonsense, Philomel (New York, NY), 1982.
Hans Baumann, Chip Has Many Brothers, Philomel (New York, NY), 1983.
Richard Buckley, The Foolish Tortoise, Picture Book Studio (Natick, MA), 1985.
Richard Buckley, The Greedy Python, Picture Book Studio (Natick, MA), 1985.
Alice McLerran, The Mountain That Loved a Bird, Picture Book Studio (Natick, MA), 1985.
Mitsumasa Anno, All in a Day, Dowaya (Tokyo, Japan), 1986.
Arnold Sundgaard, The Lamb and the Butterfly, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1988.
Bill Martin, Jr., Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, Holt (New York, NY), 1991.
Peter Martins, Tributes, Morrow, 1998.
Glassman, Peter, editor, Oz: The Hundredth Anniversary Celebration, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.
Bill Martin, Jr., Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?, Holt (New York, NY), 2003.
Eric Carle "is one of the most beloved illustrators of children's books," according to Booklist writer Ilene Cooper. The author/illustrator of over seventy books, most of them bestsellers and many award-winners, Carle has had his work translated into more than thirty languages with sales in the millions. Known as a pioneer of the novelty book, Carle has developed innovative picture books for very young readers which include pages that grow larger as a ladybug meets ever larger animals, which have holes in them bored by a ravenous caterpillar, or which contain computer chips that provide the chirping of a cricket and the flashing lights of a firefly—books which bridge the gap between touchable book and readable toy. As Ethel Heins noted in Horn Book, "Almost from the start [Carle] has worked in collage—brilliantly painted tissue paper, cut and layered for nuances in color and texture."
Even as a child, Carle was fascinated by drawing, and he shared his playfully artistic approach to picture books with his earliest published work. His third book, 1969's The Very Hungry Caterpillar, is still in print around the world and as popular as ever. Carle blends simple, primary-colored cut-paper art depicting mostly small animals and insects with direct and repetitive text, a winning formula for his legion of very young readers.
"Until I was six years old I lived in Syracuse, New York, where I went to kindergarten. I remember happy days with large sheets of paper, bright colors and wide brushes!" the author once told Something about the Author ( SATA ). Just after Carle started first grade, his family moved to Stuttgart, Germany, his father's original home. Carle grew up in Hitler's Germany, a country gearing for war. His strict schooling was counterpoised with encouragement from an art teacher who praised the young boy's drawings. He also quickly made friends and was made to feel secure in the warm circle of a large extended family. When war came in 1939, Carle's world changed. His father was absent from the family for eight years, first in the German army and then in a Soviet prisoner of war camp. Along with other children his age, Carle was a loyal German citizen, following news of the war and each of Hitler's victories. When the fortunes of war began to change, he and his family spent many nights in their local air-raid shelter. Finally he was removed to the country to be safe from the bombing raids.
Even in the midst of war, Carle was able to learn about art. As he explained in his acceptance speech for the 2003 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, "In high school my art teacher, Herr Krauss, who also believed in my talent, secretly introduced me, an unsophisticated boy of about twelve, to the beauty of abstract, modern, and expressionistic art. This was actually a very risky thing to do during the Nazi years, as Hitler had declared these kinds of art to be 'degenerate.' It was 'verboten'—forbidden—to be practiced by artists and forbidden to be shown. Herr Krauss was a dedicated and courageous teacher. I will always remember him as a shining example of what an educator can be."
With the end of the war, Germany slowly recovered. Carle's father returned to his family in 1947; Carle entered the fine arts academy and was soon designing posters for the American information center in Stuttgart. Finally, in 1952, Carle felt confident enough in his art to take his portfolio and return to the United States. Soon after arriving, however, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and was stationed back in Stuttgart. There he met his first wife. After Carle's discharge the couple moved back to New York; they eventually had two children together, but separated in 1964. During this time, Carle worked as a designer and art director. In 1963 he quit his full-time company job to begin working as a freelance artist. As he related in his Something about the Author Autobiography Series (SAAS) essay, "I had come to the conclusion that I didn't want to sit in meetings, write memos, entertain clients, and catch commuter trains. I simply wanted to create pictures."
Carle first became interested in children's literature when he was asked to do illustrations for a book by Bill Martin, Jr. "I found Bill's approach to the world of the preschool and first grade child very stimulating; it reawakened in me struggles of my own childhood," Carle commented to Delores R. Klingberg in Language Arts. Remembering his difficult early schooldays in Germany, Carle added that the conflicts from that time "remained hidden until the opportunity and insight presented themselves. Through my work with Bill Martin, an unfinished area of my own growing up had been touched."
"I didn't realize it clearly then, but my life was beginning to move onto its true course," Carle noted in his SAAS essay. "The long, dark time of growing up in wartime Germany, the cruelly enforced discipline of my school years there, the dutifully performed work at my jobs in advertising—all these were finally losing their rigid grip on me. The child inside me—who had been so suddenly and sharply uprooted and repressed—was beginning to come joyfully back to life."
"It was then that I met Ann Beneduce (then editor with World), and with her kind help and understanding I created my first two books: 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo and The Very Hungry Caterpillar," Carle once recalled to SATA. "A mixture of negative and positive influences had led to a fruitful expression." Both of Carle's first books contain bold, collage pictures and feature many different animals. The author recalled in a Books for Keeps essay that his early years with his father taught him about nature. "We used to go for long walks in the countryside together, and he would peel back tree bark to show me what was underneath it, lift rocks to reveal the insects. As a result, I have an abiding love and affection for small, insignificant animals."
1, 2, 3 to the Zoo was published in 1968 and follows several animals on their train trip to live in a zoo, with a tiny mouse observing each car. The book is full of "superb paintings of animals, bold, lively, handsome, spreading over big double-spread pages," Adele McRae wrote in the Christian Science Monitor that "His elephant is all magnificent power, his giraffes a precision of delicacy, his monkeys a tangle of liveliness. This is a book to grow with its owner. The tiny mouse lurking in every picture may remain invisible to the smallest reader and, as the title implies, the book is waiting to teach the art of counting."
Carle's award-winning The Very Hungry Caterpillar was published in 1969. "I was just playfully punching holes in a stack of paper," the author told Molly McQuade of Publishers Weekly, "and I thought to myself, 'This could've been done by a bookworm.' From that came a caterpillar." The Very Hungry Caterpillar "tells the story of a caterpillar's life-cycle, from egg to butterfly," as John A. Cunliffe described it in Children's Book Review. The caterpillar "eats through a great many things on the way—one apple on Monday, two pears on Tuesday, and so on, to a list of ten exotic items on Saturday." Cunliffe went on to note "the book's delight, and originality, lie in the way in which these cumulative items are shown.…The text is brief and simple, and has a satisfying cumulative effect that neatly matches the pictures, which are large and bold, in brilliant colours and crisp forms set against the white page, mainly achieved by the use of collage."
Not only does The Very Hungry Caterpillar contain brightly colored shapes designed to appeal to young children, it also has holes in the pages that match the path of the caterpillar. As Carle explained in Books for Your Children, the holes in The Very Hungry Caterpillar "are a bridge from toy to book, from plaything, from the touching to understanding.…Inthe very young child the thought travels mightily fast from fingertips to brain. This book has many layers. There is fun, nonsense, colour, surprise. There is learning, but if the child ignores the learning part, let him, it's OK. Someday he'll hit upon it by himself. That is the way we learn." Carle's approach in The Very Hungry Caterpillar has proved so popular that the book has sold millions of copies and been translated into over thirty languages.
Do You Want to Be My Friend? is another innovative picture book filled with bright and colorful animals. The only words in the story are the title question "Do you want to be my friend?" spoken by a lonely mouse, and a joyful "yes" from the new friend he finally discovers. Calling it "a perfect picture book for a small child," Washington Post Book World contributor Polly Goodwin added that Do You Want to Be My Friend? "offers a splendid opportunity for a pre-reader, with a little initial help, to create his own story based on the brilliantly colored, wonderfully expressive pictures." The Rooster Who Set out to See the World—later published as Rooster's Off to See the World—is another "brilliantly colored picture story that does double duty as a counting book," Lillian N. Gerhardt said in Library Journal. The story follows a rooster who decides to travel and see the world. As he travels, he adds friends in twos, threes, fours, and fives. "The sums are presented pictorially in the corners of the page," Marcus Crouch noted in Junior Bookshelf, but this does not detract from Carle's "exquisitely drawn coloured pictures. Mr. Carle is still the best of all artists for the very young," Crouch concluded.
Carle introduced another innovation in his 1977 book The Grouchy Ladybug: the pages grow in size as larger and larger animals appear on them. The story follows a bad-tempered ladybug as she challenges different creatures, starting with other insects and ending with the whale whose cutout tail slaps her back to her home leaf. While Carle presents such instructive concepts as time and size, "this book is chiefly a pleasure to read and to look at," Caroline Moorhead wrote in the Times Educational Supplement, "with its cross and good-natured ladybirds…and its deep-toned illustrations of animals."
The Very Busy Spider follows a spider that spends her day spinning a web, which grows larger with each page. Although she is interrupted by a number of farm animals, the spider continues her work until the web is finished and she catches the fly that has been bothering the other animals. Because the web and fly are raised above the page so that they can be felt, the book "is obviously of value to the visually handicapped," as Julia Eccleshare commented in the Times Literary Supplement. Denise M. Wilms agreed, writing in Booklist "this good-looking picture book has just the ingredients" to become an "instant classic."
More of these "Very" insect books have followed. The Very Quiet Cricket tells the tale of a cricket who wants to find someone to talk to. He desperately wants to be able to rub his wings together and make a sound to return the greetings of other insects, and finally, after much labor, he gets his wish. The cricket's sound is reproduced via a battery-aided computer chip on the final page of the book. "Carle has created yet another celebration of nature," declared Starr LaTronica in a School Library Journal review of the book. LaTronica further noted, "Typical of Carle's style, the language is simple, with rhythm, repetition, and alliteration to delight young listeners. Painted collage illustrations are lavish and expressive." A Books for Keeps reviewer called the same book "perfect," remarking that "the lyrical text illustrated in Carle's individual and immediately recognisable style, moves to a moment of pure astonishment that touches every young reader."
The Very Lonely Firefly presents another lovable insect in search of love, a firefly that goes out into the night in search of others like itself. In its quest for illuminated buddies, it mistakes headlights, fireworks, even a flash-light for other fireflies before it finally finds its own kind on the final page of the book, with battery-powered twinkling lights. Roger Sutton, writing in Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, noted that "toddlers will appreciate the predictability and rhythm of the text and the bold shapes of the firefly and other figures set against the streaky blue-black sky." Reviewing this supposed final book in the series, Christina Dorr concluded in School Library Journal, "This is a compelling accomplishment that will leave readers and listeners alike wishing Carle would turn the quartet into a quintet. A guaranteed winner as a read-aloud or read-alone." In the event Dorr, and thousands of young fans, were rewarded with a fifth entrant in the series in 1999, The Very Clumsy Click Beetle, about this peculiar insect which must learn to jump in the air in order to move once it has fallen on its back. Julie Corsaro called the book a "winning addition to Carle's oeuvre," in a Booklist review.
Carle has produced another series of books that deal with numbers, letters of the alphabet, tools, and a plethora of other activities and subjects for the very young. The "My Very First Book" series is designed in a "Dutch-door" style, each page split in half with separate illustrations on top and bottom halves so that the young reader can mix and match images. Again, such images are designed from brilliantly vibrant bits of collage tissue paper. Additionally, Carle has also written his own versions of familiar children's works, such as Grimm's fairy tales, Aesop's fables, and Hans Christian Andersen's stories. Reviewing Eric Carle's Treasury of Classic Stories for Children, a compilation of his retellings, LaTronica noted in School Library Journal "Carle's distinctive style of bright watercolor and collage illustration provides an excellent complement to the lively text."
Poems for young readers—from haiku to Kipling—were adapted for two popular picture books for the young reader, Eric Carle's Animals, Animals and Eric Carle's Dragons, Dragons, which was later expanded into Eric Carle's Dragons, Dragons, and Other Creatures that Never Were. Susan Schuller, reviewing the first named in School Library Journal, observed, "Carle's distinctive tissue paper collages bring brilliance and verve to this excellent anthology of poems which conveys the wonder and diversity of the animal world." Betsy Hearne commented in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books that Eric Carle's Animals, Animals provided a "splendid showcase for Carle's dramatic double image." Reviewing Eric Carle's Dragons, Dragons, a contributor to Kirkus Reviews called it a "well-chosen, gorgeously illustrated collection of poetry."
Carle has also produced many stand-alone titles that both delight and educate very young readers. Today Is Monday takes the young reader on a song-journey through the days of the week and the foods eaten every day. "Lovely to look at; delightful to know," concluded Trevor Dickinson in a Books for Keeps review. In Little Cloud, Carle tells of the "whimsical world of everchanging shapes in the sky," according to Kathy Mitchell in School Library Journal. The cloud in mention delights in changing its shape into a lamb or airplane or shark, finally joining the others in one large rain cloud. "Children will enjoy the simple text and the colorful illustrations," Mitchell concluded. Dickinson, reviewing Little Cloud in the School Librarian, felt that the book was a "delight in its own artistic right," and would "encourage close and interested observation of the wider world."
Carle's 1997 From Head to Toe presents animals and multiethnic children demonstrating various body movements. "Keeping both text and graphics to a minimum, Carle proves once again just how effective simplicity can be," wrote a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. The same contributor concluded that children will "eagerly clap, stomp, kick and wriggle their way through these pages from start to finish." Booklist's Cooper observed, "Carle's signature strong collages are put to good use in this book about movement." In Hello, Red Fox, "Carle asks readers to engage in optical illusions to view his illustrations for a story that becomes an unforgettable lesson in complementary colors," according to a Kirkus Reviews critic. After staring at a picture of the fox in green, for ten seconds, the reader then shifts focus to a pure white facing page and the fox appears in red as an after image. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly felt that Carle once again proved the old adage that "Less is more" with a "straightforward, repetitive text and minimalist cut-paper art." Booklist's Linda Perkins commented that this "playful starting point for science discussions at home or at school" would be "sure to intrigue children."
Carle has used his childhood in Germany for several other books, including his award-winning Draw Me a Star, the autobiographical My Apron: A Story from My Childhood, and his only book for older readers, Flora and Tiger: Nineteen Very Short Stories from My Life. In Draw Me a Star, he harks back to memories of his German grandmother and links it to a dream that parallels the story of Creation. A reviewer for Books for Keeps called this a "splendid book for its colour, its richness and its potential for thought and imagination." School Library Journal's Eve Larkin thought Draw Me a Star was an "inspired book in every sense of the word." My Apron: A Story from My Childhood tells of a young boy whose aunt makes him an apron so that he can help his uncle plaster the chimney. In the original edition of this novelty book, a child-size apron was included for young readers. Flora and Tiger: Nineteen Very Short Stories from My Life presents "spare autobiographical vignettes that take place from [Carle's] childhood to the present," according to Booklist contributor Hazel Rochman. Jane Claes noted in School Library Journal that these "sketches are sometimes moving, sometimes funny, and sometimes uplifting" and are a "super addition to any study of Carle or his work."
Such work continues into the new millennium. With Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too?, Carle asks this question about ten other animals, to show that all animals have mothers. The side of the other parent is presented in Mister Seahorse, which focuses on fish fathers who take care of their young. The story follows Mister Seahorse as he carries his young through the family's aquatic neighborhood; each time he sees another father fish, he stops to praise the finned parent for the good job he is doing taking care of his young. A Publishers Weekly critic noted that with this book, "Carle adds to his rich cache of endearing animal characters while delivering some intriguing information about several underwater species." According to Booklist reviewer Julie Cummins, "The vivid, multicolored fish and translucent scenery perfectly evoke the watery backdrop." Many fish appear camouflagued in the book, so that although Mister Seahorse does not notice them on his travels, readers are sure to spot them in the illustrations. While these hidden fish are not part of the story, "they introduce a greater variety of sea life and are sure to be a hit with children," assured Piper L. Nyman, writing in School Library Journal.
In Dream Snow Carle produced a counting story for the holiday season. Featuring a farmer who dresses like Santa Claus, the story reveals the different animals on the farm, each of which is given a number for a name. Each page has a plastic overlay printed with snow to show snow covering the various animals and aspects of the farm as the farmer gives the animals their presents. Gillian Engberg of Booklist noted that the book contains "Carle's signature bright, textured collages." Another of Carle's animal books shows the value of taking your time in "Slowly, Slowly, Slowly," Said the Sloth. The book includes a preface by zoologist Jane Goodall and tells the story of a sloth who is mocked by other creatures for taking his time. "Colorful endpapers name all of the animals introduced in Carle's signature collage illustrations," pointed out a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. A critic for Kirkus Reviews noted, "Despite the fact that hardly anything happens, this depiction of a day in the life of a sloth is never boring," and added that Carle's jungle "teems with life." Mary Elam, writing in School Library Journal, noted that "The artwork alone places this book as a treasured addition for all libraries."
In a joint effort with Japanese artist Kazuo Iwamura, the two artists created the bilingual book Where Are You Going? To See My Friend! The book reads from left to right in English for the first half of the book, then reads from right to left in transliterated Japanese from the back half of the book. Each half features animals and a child, drawn in each artist's signature style, who are all going to visit a friend, and the characters from both sides of the book meet in the center. Andrea Tarr, writing in School Library Journal, called Where Are You Going? To See My Friend! "an irresistible, spirited ode to friendship." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews considered the work to be "a unique venture between two friends, who happen to be famous artists." Jennifer M. Brabander, writing for Horn Book, commented, "Well-designed pages feature lots of white space that attractively showcases both Carle's bold collage art and Iwamura's delicate watercolors." Although the two artists have very different styles, "the artists' work merges without jarring contrast" in the center according to John Peters, writing for Booklist. A reviewer for Christian Century summed the book up as "a bilingual tour de force about friendship."
Carle and Bill Martin, Jr., teamed up for a third bear book in 2003 with Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? In Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, the text focuses on neighborhood animals in North America, ending with a group of children identifying animals in their back yard. Teachers and parents wrote letters to Holt, the publisher, begging for another book of the same style, and the pair collaborated on Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, which takes place at a zoo and describes the sounds that various zoo animals make. As of 2004, these two titles combined have sold more than ten million copies and have been translated into thirty languages. Again, another collaboration was requested, and it took time—nearly eleven years—for just the right topic to come up. Laura Godwin, vice president of Holt, explained to Lodge, "no one wanted to do a sequel just to do a sequel. A third book had to be something that stood on its own and had its own voice." Because the first book focused on sight and the second book focused on hearing, it took some time to come up with a third theme. When Martin decided to focus on the movement of animals, the book started to come together. The focus changed from North American animals and zoo animals to endangered species, and the environmental theme carries through to the book's ending, in which a child reports that he sees the animals "all wild and free—that's what I see!" Carle told Lodge that he had to do the illustrations twice. "After completing the first version, I realized that something wasn't right, so I started over." His second set of illustrations feature painted backgrounds for each of the animals, helping young readers to visualize the threatened animals in their natural habitats. Critics praised Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? ; GraceAnne A. DeCandido considered it "a fine read-aloud with a subtle, yet clear, message."
In Ten Little Rubber Ducks Carle creates a counting adventure based on a true story of bath toys falling off of a container ship. The ducks of the title are swept overboard, and each ends up in a different part of the world, encountering animals including dolphins, seals, and, for the tenth lucky duck, a family of wild ducks. The tenth duck is adopted into the wild-duck family, although he continues to squeak when his duck family quacks. "This book makes a wonderful read-aloud for storytimes or one-on-one sharing," praised Linda Staskus in School Library Journal, concluding, "It's a definite 10." A Kirkus Reviews contributor predicted that "Audiences of one or many will enjoy it," while a critic for Publishers Weekly noted that when Carle combines his "characteristically jewel-toned collage art with a breezy text," it makes for "a ducky tale indeed."
On November 22, 2002, Carle celebrated picture book art in a new way when the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art opened in Amherst, Massachusetts. Founded in part by Carle and his wife, Barbara Carle, the museum offers exhibisions and programming that encourage inquiry, foster an appreciation for the visual arts, and engage, delight, and inspire children and their families. When asked by Holly J. Morris of U.S. News and World Report when he started planning the museum, Carle answered it had taken him about seven years. "I always compare it to a fairy tale," Carle explained; "there's always the number seven in fairy tales. It probably started off as an idle remark, 'Wouldn't it be nice to have a picture book museum?'" Having visited the Japanese museum dedicated to picture book artist Chihiro Iwasaki, Carle modeled much of the Eric Carle Museum after its Japanese predecessor. In its three galleries, the museum has rotated exhibits of the works of picture book artists from around the world, including Maurice Sendak, Margaret Wise Brown, Mitsumasa Anno, William Steig, Beatrix Potter, Chris Van Allsburg, Steven Kellogg, Tomie de Paola, Arthur Rackham, and Leo Lionni. The museum has also featured picture book art completed by middle-school students. Along with the galleries, there are also workshops for both young and old to practice their own picture book art. Speaking to Luann Toth of School Library Journal, Carle said, "Our hope is that this museum will be a celebration of creativity, a place for learning and enjoyment, and a salute to picture book art from around the world."
Reviewing Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too? in Booklist, Tim Arnold noted, "Almost no author/ illustrator over the past thirty years has played a more prominent role in the literary lives of preschoolers than Eric Carle." Arnold further commented, "His large, inviting graphic animals have consistently delighted and taught children during early stages of development. This latest effort is no exception." Whatever their topic, all of Carle's works are educational tools that interest children with their bold, imaginative drawings and whimsical presentations. "We underestimate children," Carle said in a 1982 Early Years interview. "They have tremendous capacities for learning." The author/illustrator's belief in the inquisitiveness of the child has not altered over the years. In his Web page, Carle responds to frequently asked questions about himself. Under "hobbies" he notes, "I would have to say my work is my hobby. And my hobby is my work. Even when I'm not working in my studio, I might be thinking about future books. I will probably never retire from creating books."
Carle devotes a multi-layered artistic sensibility to this "hobby." As he explained on his Web site, "I want to show [my readers] that learning is really both fascinating and fun." In his acceptance speech for the 2003 Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, Carle told listeners, "Not so long ago, a child told me, 'You are a good picture writer.' I think that is a very good description of what I do. I like being a picture writer. Someone else has said that my books are 'literature for the not-yet and just-about-to-be reader.' I like that description, too. Literature!" As Donnarae MacCann and Olga Richard claimed in the Wilson Library Bulletin, "Carle is like a half dozen creative people rolled into one." Because of Carle's skill in writing for pre-schoolers, his "innovativeness and artistic discipline," and his ability to turn a book into a toy, the critics concluded, "a child reared on such books will blossom into a confirmed bibliophile."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Children's Literature Review, Volume 10, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1986.
Martin, Bill, Jr., Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?, Holt (New York, NY), 2003.
Norby, Shirley, and Gregory Ryan, editors, Famous Children's Authors, Denison, 1988.
Pendergast, Sara, and Tom Pendergast, editors, St. James Guide to Children's Writers, 5th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Silvey, Anita, editor, Children's Books and Their Creators, Houghton Mifflin, 1995.
Something about the Author Autobiography Series, Volume 6, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1988.
Art Business News, January, 2003, "Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art," p. 64.
Booklist, June 1, 1985, Denise M. Wilms, review of The Very Busy Spider, p. 1398; September 15, 1996, Ilene Cooper, review of The Art of Eric Carle, p. 253; April 15, 1997, Ilene Cooper, review of From Head to Toe, p. 1431; December 15, 1997, Hazel Rochman, review of Flora and Tiger, p. 692; April, 1998, Linda Perkins, review of Hello, Red Fox, p. 1329; October 1, 1999, Julie Corsaro, review of The Very Clumsy Click Beetle, p. 360; January 1, 2000, Tim Arnold, review of Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too?, p. 930; September 1, 2000, Gillian Engberg, review of Dream Snow, p. 130; January 1, 2001, Isabel Schon, review of the Spanish translation of Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? p. 973; January 1, 2003, John Peters, review of Where Are You Going? To See My Friend!, p. 894; July, 2003, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? p. 1897; April 1, 2004, Julie Cummins, review of Mister Seahorse, p. 1365.
Books for Keeps, May, 1985, Eric Carle, "Authorgraph No. 2: Eric Carle," pp. 14-15; November, 1987, p. 4; May, 1994, Trevor Dickinson, review of Today Is Monday, p. 33; March, 1995, p. 25; July, 1995, review of Draw Me a Star, p. 6; December, 1996, p. 82; January, 1997, p. 18; March, 1997, p. 7; June, 1997, p. 352; November, 1997, review of The Very Quiet Cricket, pp. 5-6; January, 1998, p. 156.
Books for Your Children, Spring, 1978, Eric Carle, "From Hungry Caterpillars to Bad Tempered Ladybirds," p. 7.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October, 1989, Betsy Hearne, review of Eric Carle's Animals, Animals, p. 47; November, 1990, p. 56; July-August, 1995 Roger Sutton, review of The Very Lonely Firefly, pp. 379-380.
Children's Book Review, February, 1971, John A. Cunliffe, review of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, p. 14.
Christian Century, December 13, 2003, review of Where Are You Going? To See My Friend!, p. 25.
Christian Science Monitor, May 1, 1969, Adele McRae, "Crayoned Morality Plays," p. B2.
Early Years, April, 1982, "Eric Carle's Children's Books Are to Touch," p. 23.
Horn Book, March-April, 1997, Ethel Heins, review of The Art of Eric Carle, pp. 215-16; May-June, 2003, Jennifer M. Brabander, review of Where Are You Going? To See My Friend!, p. 326; July-August, 2003, Eric Carle, "Wilder Medal Acceptance," pp. 421-425.
Junior Bookshelf, October, 1972, Marcus Crouch, review of The Rooster Who Set Out to See the World, pp. 301-302; January, 1994, p. 14; June, 1994, p. 93; October, 1995, p. 167.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 1989, p. 988; July 15, 1991, review of Eric Carle's Dragons, Dragons, p. 940; June 1, 1995, p. 778; August 1, 1996, p. 1159; April 1, 1997, p. 551; February 1, 1998, review of Hello, Red Fox, p. 194; August 1, 2002, review of "Slowly, Slowly, Slowly," Said the Sloth, p. 1123; March 15, 2003, review of Where Are You Going? To See My Friend!, p. 460; April 15, 2004, review of Mister Seahorse, p. 391; January 1, 2005, review of Ten Little Rubber Ducks, p. 49.
Language Arts, April, 1977, Delores R. Klingberg, "Eric Carle," p. 447.
Library Journal, June 15, 1973, Lillian N. Gerhardt, review of The Rooster Who Set Out to See the World, pp. 1992-93.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, April 11, 1999, p. 6.
Magpies, July, 1996, p. 26.
Publishers Weekly, September 29, 1989, Molly McQuade, "Ballyhooing Birthdays: Four Children's Classics and How They Grew," pp. 28-29; February 17, 1997, review of From Head to Toe, p. 219; January 26, 1998, review of Hello, Red Fox, p. 91; October 18, 1999, p. 86; January 10, 2000, p. 66; September 25, 2000, Elizabeth Devereaux, review of Dream Snow, p. 67; June 11, 2001, review of Hello, Red Fox, p. 87; July 1, 2002, review of "Slowly, Slowly, Slowly," Said the Sloth, p. 77; July 7, 2003, Sally Lodge, "A Bear of a Project for Martin & Carle," pp. 20-21; November 10, 2003, review of Where Are You Going? To See My Friend!, p. 35; March 15, 2004, review of Mister Seahorse, p. 74; January 24, 2005, review of 10 Little Rubber Ducks, p. 242.
School Arts, May, 1999, p. 18; April, 2003, Jane Sutley, "Art History à' la Eric Carle," pp. 32-33.
School Librarian, August, 1997, p. 130; November, 1997, Trevor Dickinson, review of Little Cloud, p. 184; autumn, 1998, p. 129.
School Library Journal, April, 1988, Starr LaTronica, review of Eric Carle's Treasury of Classic Stories for Children, p. 94; November, 1989, Susan Schuller, review of Eric Carle's Animals, Animals, p. 101; December, 1990, Star LaTronica, review of The Very Quiet Cricket, p. 72; October, 1992, Eve Larkin, review of Draw Me a Star, p. 80; November, 1992. p. 133; April, 1993, p. 109; November, 1994, p. 73; February, 1995, p. 126; August, 1995, Christina Dorr, review of The Very Lonely Firefly, pp. 120-121; May, 1996, Kathy Mitchell, review of Little Cloud, p. 85; December, 1996, p. 46; April, 1997, p. 120; February, 1998, Jane Claes, review of Flora and Tiger, p. 113; July, 1998, p. 71; November, 1999, p. 112; October, 2000, review of Dream Snow, p. 57; September, 2002, Mary Elam, review of "Slowly, Slowly, Slowly," Said the Sloth, p. 181; January, 2003, Luann Toth, "A Museum Grows in Amherst," p. 17; March, 2003, Andrea Tarr, review of Where Are You Going? To See My Friend!, p. 216; May, 2004, Piper L. Nyman, review of Mister Seahorse, p. 102; January, 2005, Linda Staskus, review of Ten Little Rubber Ducks, p. 88.
Times Educational Supplement, February 3, 1978, Caroline Moorhead, "Animal/Animal, Animal/Human," p. 45.
Times Literary Supplement, March 29, 1985, Julia Eccleshare, "Following the Thread," p. 351.
U.S. News and World Report, November 18, 2002, Holly J. Morris, "The Very Busy Artist," p. 14.
Washington Post Book World, May 9, 1971, Polly Goodwin, review of Do You Want to Be My Friend?, section II, p. 4.
Wilson Library Bulletin, January, 1989, Donnarae MacCann and Olga Richard, "Picture Books for Children," pp. 90-91.
Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art Web site, http://www.picturebookart.org/(July 31, 2005).
Eric Carle: Picture Writer (video), Searchlight Films, 1993.*
Official Eric Carle Web Site, http://www.eric-carle.com(July 31, 2005).
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