We’re so excited to welcome Lucy Cousins, creator of the bestselling Maisy books, to The Carle this Saturday. Guests on Saturday will have the opportunity to not only meet Lucy and Maisy the Mouse, but also see Lucy at work in our Art Studio. This video gives a taste of how Lucy Cousins creates Maisy, with simple bold outlines and lots of color! I loved listening to Lucy talk about Maisy like a dear friend. “She’s a good mouse.”
One of the things that I love so much about Maisy is that she’s a girl mouse, who doesn’t wear dresses all of the time or talk about princesses and the color pink. Instead Maisy is active, curious and kicks around in overalls, driving trucks and trains. Looking at the amazing number of Maisy books and the adventures she has, one of the most important lessons I learned from Maisy is that you can do anything. You can be into gardening, swimming, cooking, or dressing up. You can be a doctor or teacher or chef or explorer. Even a pirate if you want to! Maisy is a leader, a learner and a do-er and I think that makes her a great role model for all young readers of all genders.
If you haven’t seen it yet, the film is about Eric Carle and his life. Viewers learn how Eric makes books and where his ideas come from. Film Director, Kate Geis remarks about the film, “we see the man reflected in his work — an artist who loves color and the simple collage imagery of animals and insects that appealed to the six-year-old child he once was, and the 83 year old man he is today. Eric is a warm and encouraging artist. He creates to satisfy his own desire to make art but he wants his audience, whether they are 4 or 40 or 80 years old, to be artists too.”
This film is extra special to us because it culminates in the creation of The Eric Carle Museum. After a lifetime of creating successful picture books and selling over 33 million copies of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric and his wife Barbara give back by building a 40,000 square foot museum to celebrate picture book art from around the world and the creative spirit in each visitor who walks through its doors. You can read more about the film on its website.
It’s such an educational and inspiring film and is well-loved by educators who use it in their classrooms when doing units on Eric Carle. It has already won the American Library Association’s ALSC 2012 Notable Children’s Video award for “videos for children 14 years of age and younger that exhibit especially commendable quality, show respect for children’s intelligence and imagination and reflect and encourage the interests of children in exemplary ways.”
Here’s a trailer for the film:
Like what you see? Pick up your own copy of the film in our store on online.
What I love about this app is the way it has captured Eric Carle’s aesthetic. Crisp colorful images of all the fruits and junk foods are extremely faithful to Eric Carle’s original cut paper collage in his classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. As you know, Eric Carle’s simple and modern art style allows for a lot of white space on the page and this app echoes this with a simple white background. No flashing lights or obnoxiously bright colors. No annoying sounds or frantic animation.
The game utilizes the underlying concept of counting from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Preschoolers familiar with the book will love the role reversal. Now they, instead of the caterpillar, are empowered to select the foods to eat. In five levels of increasing difficulty, an optional voiceover narrates the game. You must “eat the fruit” by tapping the correct number. For example, the player is instructed to “Please eat three strawberries,” and must tap the strawberriess on the screen. In a nice faithful touch to the book, once the fruit has been tapped, a hole appears as if the caterpillar has munched on through. Later levels challenge players by having more than just strawberries on the screen, so the player must sort through all the familiar foods to find the right one. Numbers displayed above the correctly tapped fruit reinforce counting skills from 1 to 10.
There is no win or lose as this game is on a constant loop and, even if you tap the incorrect food or number, you are given seemingly infinite chances to get it right. Select options and you can choose to turn on or off the soothing background Mozart music, as well as the female voiceover. You can also change the game play from sequential to random order to challenge more advanced players.
Would you like to give it a try? Night& Day Studios has graciously offered to giveaway games to FIVE of our lucky readers! Winners will have the option to choose from iPad or iPhone apps. All you need to do to enter is leave a comment below and tell us your favorite food from Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. (Mine’s the strawberry). The giveaway will be open until 12:00 pmEST tomorrow, Friday, November 4th and then five winners will be randomly chosen. Good luck!
GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED. Congratulations to the five winners: Jeanie Taylor, Bonnie, Leslie, Lynn and Joyce! I’ll be in touch soon about how to claim your prizes.
Did you know that you can buy apps and eBooks and still support The Carle? Visit our App and eBook store and browse through our selection of apps and books based on favorite children’s books. Then click the buttons below the description to purchase the app directly through iTunes. Each purchase donates a small percentage to The Carle that supports our mission of early literacy and education. Choose from Mo Willems’ Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App, Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon and a whole lot more!
Eric Carle once received a fan letter from a child that said, “You are a good picture writer.” Eric Carle loves this letter because it describes perfectly how he feels about his art. He’s not just creating illustrations or making pictures, but writing the pictures and writing the story with his art.
Many of you may be familiar with the video, Eric Carle: Picture Writer, which has been a valuable resource for fans and educators since 1993. In the video, Eric Carle talks about his books and art, showing how he makes collages and how he got the ideas for a few of his books. Today, we’re excited to announce a new 2011 updated version of this DVD. In this short film (30 minutes), the viewer visits Eric at home. They join him in his garden and in his art studio and watch how he creates his art. They learn about his childhood and how he became an artist. They hear how he comes up with the ideas for his books and gets to see drafts in progress. Unlike the old version which was produced before The Eric Carle Museum ever opened, this new version even includes Eric at The Carle, meeting fans, creating art with children in our Art Studio and explaining just why creating the museum was so important to him.
The staff here at The Carle had time before work this morning to sit down together in our Auditorium and see the new DVD for the first time. While many of us know Eric and are familiar with many of his personal anecdotes and stories, it was so wonderful to see them all put so masterfully together into the video. By watching the video you really feel like you’re right there with Eric, that he’s talking to you and you’re now in on all his secrets about how he creates his art. Eric talks directly to the artist within us all and says. “It’s easy. I can do it. You can do it.” In fact, after watching the movie on Saturday during Eric Carle’s book signing, a little boy was so inspired, he rushed right out of the auditorium to the art studio to create his own artwork. Then, when it was his turn to meet Eric Carle, he was able to show him his artwork with great pride and Eric was very touched. What a truly beautiful moment!
Like the original video, this DVD is perfect for anyone looking to do an author or illustrator study or wants to learn more about Eric Carle. For educators, it’s a perfect video to show in their classroom to introduce Eric Carle and his methods. Even for young audiences who might not be able to sit through the whole film, there are so many wonderful moments that can be shown as short clips, such as watching how Eric Carle paints his tissue papers, selects his colors, and even creates The Very Hungry Caterpillar in collage. This DVD is going to be valuable addition to any classroom or library.
We’re selling it now in our Shop here. If you’re interested in owning both editions, we are now selling them in a package set as well for a reduced price. Happy picture writing!
In 1992 I held a picture storybook sale outside the lecture hall where Professor Donald Graves was presenting a full-day seminar to five hundred teachers on the subject of creative writing in the classroom. I listened in on the closing question-and-answer session. A brave teacher spoke up. “How do we find time to use these creative writing techniques when all our time is spent teaching to the test?’
This was the question all the teachers had been puzzling over. Of course every teacher wants to run a classroom where creative writing, artistic expression, and reading for pleasure are nurtured. But the hard truth is that basic skills lessons, with time for review, plus plenty of repetitive drilling are essential to ensure students achieve high scores on standardized tests.
Professor Graves answered firmly, “You have a union. You can change things.”
Slowly the teachers rose, and, murmuring, left the lecture hall. Their day of creative exercises had ended on a somber note. Their labor unions would not fight for this sort of curricular change.
In the world of children’s books much is being made of a recent New York Times article asserting that parents’ need for children to achieve high test scores is now leading to an early abandonment of picture storybooks; longer chapter-books being believed by parents and teachers to be associated with higher reading scores. Another New York Times article published a few days later reports the impact popular culture is having on the rise of “mean-girl” bullying in the early grades.
Evidently, pressure on elementary school children to both achieve high test scores and to adopt aggressive pop-culture behavior styles are rising in tandem. Perhaps a well-known picture storybook can explain this correlation.
In Hansel and Gretel, like children under too much testing pressure, Hansel and Gretel are challenged to grow up fast. Their father is too weak to prevent their evil stepmother from evicting them. During their first exile in the forest, Hansel passes a test: he has left a trail of pebbles, which he and Gretel follow home. The second time however Hansel fails; his breadcrumbs don’t solve the problem of ensuring a safe return. He and Gretel are attracted to a house of candy created by a witch, just as our children, alienated from too-demanding school and schoolwork-dominated home environments, are drawn to sexualized pop culture, violent videogames, and sugary foods, all produced by amoral and sometimes immoral corporations.
To flee the witch, Hansel and Gretel—who have been eating her candy—must push her into her own oven: their escape initiates them willy-nilly into her violence. Perhaps our children, like Hansel and Gretel, must assimilate our popular culture’s violence in order to master it. If so, our role should be to mediate this hazardous process. Picture storybooks—rich in allusion, artistically stimulating, and many with language more complex than that in chapter-books—are an invaluable tool.
Hansel and Gretel return home to find their father chastened and welcoming. But their return would have been meaningless if the father hadn’t already arrived at his own corrective conclusion, and banished the evil stepmother. Are today’s teachers and parents capable of learning from the father of Hansel and Gretel? Are we prepared to push back against the demands of excessive test prep and set aside time in home and classroom for shared reading of picture storybooks?
A few weeks ago I was returning from a trip to Nantucket and the evening ferry was nearly empty. An energetic three-year-old boy was rushing about uncontrollably. His anxious mother announced that she was downloading a book for him. A few minutes later I heard a cartoon voice narrating a pirate story. I looked over, and saw the mother holding her iPad with the screen facing forward, as the now-rapt, standing child watched the “book” on the iPad screen tell its story. I admit I was appalled to understand that the machine had replaced the mother’s voice. Indeed, she was blocking the child from her body with this wall of a machine. What should have been a sensual, intimate picture book was reduced to a cartoon on a screen.
Years ago, when I travelled with young children, I always packed Arnold Lobel’s ready-to-read books in the diaper bag: the Frog And Toad series, Small Pig, and my favorite, Grasshopper On The Road. Coming back on a crowded plane from Florida to Chicago in February 1991, my wife, three-year-old son and two-year-old daughter found ourselves circling O’Hare Airport at midnight in a snowstorm. During this flight I had allowed my restless son to tramp up and down the aisles while I tagged along, eliciting irritated glares from fellow passengers. No one is despised like a parent who fails to control his undisciplined child. As the plane circled endlessly, I now held Sam firmly on my lap and read Grasshopper On The Road aloud with passion and urgency.
Among the foolish characters Grasshopper meets on his travels are a parade of Beetles marching in support of morning. They welcome Grasshopper when he says he likes morning too, but are furious when he adds that afternoon and night are also nice. Reading Lobel’s book made me feel better about being disdained for my parenting style by the other passengers on the plane. There are many ways to be a good parent; being supportive and indulgent just happens to be mine.
I have been a children’s bookseller for more than twenty-five years now. A few months ago the brilliant inventor and futurologist Nicholas Negroponte of M.I.T. told the world that the physical book will be dead in five years. This doesn’t leave much room for me and my life’s work. It’s easy to insult others by criticizing their incorrect actions, as I did when I reflexively felt critical of that mother on the ferry who used a cold machine to read aloud to her three-year-old. But I don’t want to be one of those know-it-all Beetles who insist they have the only answer. Rather, I aspire to be like the hero of Grasshopper On The Road, who embraces many alternatives. It is true that I am biased against eBooks–and against Professor Negroponte’s perspective–because I love physical books. But I am sure that if I had young children today, just like that mother on the Nantucket ferryboat, my child-rearing practice would include eBooks. She was demonstrating skill-sets that I don’t possess (just as Professor Negroponte possesses no children’s bookselling skills), and I judged her negatively without considering what her demonstrated skills said about her.
For instance, the book she had downloaded was about pirates. For a wild child on a ferryboat, this was perfect. In addition, her choice to have her son watch an animated book demonstrated her skill at rapidly reining in the child’s running. Finally, merely because she sometimes uses her iPad to acquire children’s literature doesn’t mean her family doesn’t also use traditional children’s books. Probably they love printed picture books, and the iPad is a useful addition to their reading practice.
I hope that just as I am willing to accept eBooks as fine additions to the arsenal of good parenting resources, those who tout eBooks like Professor Negroponte will leave room in their futurology for my beloved real-world picture books.
A customer noticed our Horn Book Magazine display at the cash register just now, and called out to her adult daughter, “I had my poem published in Horn Book when I was ten!” I asked her what year that was….she hesitated before responding, “It must have been 1961.” I asked if she remembered the poem and she promptly recited:
When I grow up I hope to see
A world of love and peace and glee,
A world where children far and near
Will never have a single fear.
She said that in 1961 there were frequent civil defense duck-and-cover exercises in the classroom, and this was the inspiration for her poem.
I asked if having her poem published in Horn Book had been important to her. She said, “Of course! I became famous in school.” She went on to become an elementary school teacher, and is now retired.
Although Horn Book no longer publishes children’s poetry, this long-concluded publishing program resonates down the years through its influence on the children who participated. That’s the stunning thing about working with young people, isn’t it? The work continues to have impact long after you yourself have moved on.
Ever wonder how a book is made? Tara Books, an independent book publisher based in India, has created a short video showing the making of Do!, their newest picture book that combines an introduction to basic verbs with tradition Warli pictogram art. I think for any book lover or artist, watching the care and skill that goes into creating these beautiful books by hand is so inspiring.