Today’s Puzzler came out a conversation I had today with a customer in the store. He asked me if we carried Bats at the Library by Brian Lies (Houghton Mifflin, 2008). I pulled the book off the shelf for him and we talked about how the illustrations of this wonderful book are filled with references to classic children’s books. He opened the book to a double page spread and pointed to a little bat sitting on a flying bed with the word bubble, “No more melted cheese for me, no.” He told me he knew all the references except that one. He just couldn’t figure it out. Luckily we sold the book this illustration paid homage to in our store and together we were able to solve this little mystery. Can you?
The following images are two double-spread illustrations from Bats at the Library. (If you haven’t read the book yet, be sure to pick up a copy! These scans can’t begin to do it justice!) Study them closely and see if you can name the children’s books referenced in the pictures. I’ve found fifteen. How many can you find? List them in the comments below and I’ll be back on Friday with the answers!
Wow. What a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! World renowned artist Etienne Delessert will be teaching a 3-hour Master Art Class here at The Carle this Friday, May 20th at 9:30 am. Learn from this self-taught artist who for more than 30 years has been translating his-and the world’s-ideas, passions, fantasies and nightmares into the visual language of books, magazine illustrations, posters, animated films, paintings and sculptures. He reaches both children and adults with his imaginary creatures and landscapes, juxtaposing the familiar with the fantastic to clarify this world and create new and lasting universes.
There are still a few spots available in the class. Tuition is $75 ($65 for Carle members). Recommended for experienced artists, ages 16 and up.
Etienne Delessert’s artwork will be on exhibit in our gallery until June 5th and the exhibition catalog and books will be available in our Shop even after the exhibition closes. Click here to browse our complete collection of Delessert books and prints. For more about Etienne Delessert, read this wonderful interview over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, one of our favorite children’s book blogs.
Even if you can’t make this amazing class, you must NOT miss the chance to see this exhibit before it closes! Hope to see you soon!
This Sunday, November 7th at 1:00 pm, meet local award-winning writer and storyteller Rich Michelson at The Carle. As well as being a poet and writer of children’s books, Rich is also the owner of the amazing R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton, MA, which houses fine art of all kinds, including an extensive collection of original children’s book illustration. (When I get around to putting together my dream children’s book tour of New England, these galleries are going to be a must-see stop!)
Rich’s books for children are playful and lyrical, and often revolve around the close and heartwarming relationships children form with others in their lives, despite racial or cultural barriers. His books all have a great appreciation for history and, often, Jewish culture. In collaboration with our Monsters & Miracles exhibition, on Sunday Rich will discuss his own picture books as well as the history of Jewish children’s book illustration. A book signing will follow his presentation. If you can’t make the event, but would like to buy any of Rich’s books, place your order online by Saturday, November 6th and we will have him sign your books and then ship them to you after the event. Click here to see all of Rich’s books for sale in our store.
For more about Rich Michelson, check out this wonderful interview over at one of my favorite blogs, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.
I also really enjoyed this video of Rich Michelson talking about Maurice Sendak, the man who “doesn’t write blurbs” writing a blurb for his book, Too Young for Yiddish as well as discussing Brundibar. Really interesting stuff!
After Rich’s presentation at The Carle on Sunday, please join us at R. Michelson Galleries from 4-6 pm in Northampton, MA to celebrate the gallery’s 21st Annual Children’s Illustration Show. We look forward to it every year and the Carle Bookstore will be there selling books by all the fabulous children’s book illustrators in show. It’s the perfect time to meet the artists and writers behind your favorite children’s books and maybe get a book signed. Don’t believe me? Check out this picture of last year’s star-studded attendance:
To see who’s who, check out the R. Michelson gallery website here.
On Monday, staffers of The Carle took a field trip to visit our Berkshire neighbor, The Norman Rockwell Museum. They’re currently featuring, in addition to their amazing collection of Rockwell originals, artwork from the prolific children’s illustrator and popular cartoonist, William Steig. I was so excited to see pieces of The Carle’s collection of Steig’s children’s book art, including illustrations from Shrek! and my personal favorite, Alpha Beta Chowder, but even more so to see his adult cartoons and New Yorker covers for the first time. It was quite remarkable to see how many pieces were in the exhibit, (three full galleries!) and also to see just how relevant and humorous Steig’s artwork still is to audiences today. I overheard so many people chuckling while walking through his galleries. Here’s one of my personal favorite adult cartoons from the exhibition:
"I've got some bad news." Photo courtesy of The Norman Rockwell Museum
While it has been a dreary, rainy start to autumn here in Western Mass, the view from the Norman Rockwell Museum was still spectacular as the leaves are starting to turn color. Here’s Rockwell’s art studio behind the museum.
We are so grateful for the Norman Rockwell Museum for hosting us and encourage everyone to hurry to see the exhibit William Steig: Love & Laughter before it closes at the end of this month. I can’t wait to go back when their next exhibit, Witness: The Art of Jerry Pinkney opens in November. Maybe I’ll see you there!
Last year in my course on picture books in the Simmons College at The Carle MFA program, we used the book Picture Thisby Caldecott Honor winning illustrator Molly Bang as one of our core texts. The book outlines principles of picture book illustration, breaking it down in the simplest of terms. Using a cut paper collage technique, Bang shows how the use of certain colors and shapes and their placement on the page can all be utilized to create a specific atmosphere or emotion. Cool colors and rounded shapes in a picture book’s illustration can make a reader feel calm and safe, while hot colors and pointed edges can have the opposite effect.
We were then challenged to create our own collage illustrations with just a very limited palette of colored paper, a pair of scissors, and a gluestick. Afterward, we all laid out our creations to show how each one tells a story and has an energy all its own. That’s the true power of picture book illustration!
Our collages inspired by Molly Bang's Picture This. Photo by Christy Yaros.
Sound like fun? Why not give it a try in your home or classroom or take one of our Carle Museum workshops. We’ll be offering a workshop using Molly Bangs’ Picture This on December 10th. Click here for more information.
Do you have a favorite book for teaching art or reading picture books in the classroom? Let us know in the comments below!
Working in a children’s bookstore, I’ve heard many customers comment over the years that their kids are “too old” for picture books. It’s as if there is some kind of invisible barrier when a child hits a certain age that picture books become childish or even insulting. This may be true for many readers who are excited to devour longer and longer novels, but I’d hate for someone to brush off the power of pictures too quickly. Here at The Carle Museum Bookstore, we carry only illustrated books, and yet have so much more than just books for children under five. People might not know that I see adults and teenagers buying picture books for themselves every day. And it’s not just the books they remember nostalgically from their childhoods, but new books. They find books in new unique formats, books with dark humor, or books that contains subtexts they never “got” as a child.
A perfect example happened this weekend, when a small group of college students came in to the store. I overheard a few occasional, “I remember this!” or “I loved this one as a kid!” but overall they seemed to be discovering new books. I was thrilled to hear them laughing and exploring the store, sharing books they unearthed from our shelves with each other, and best of all to a bookseller – buying a whole bunch of them for themselves! And what did they buy? Picture books, of course. Edward Gorey, Mac Barnett, Jon Scieszka, Shaun Tan, Chris Van Allsburg and David Macaulay picture books. Picture books that made them laugh, made them think, or made them in awe of the artwork. Picture books that played with words in ways that not only children love, but adults can appreciate as an art form. Picture books that turn what is “expected” on its head.
These kinds of books are so popular with customers, that we even have a designated section of our store we’ve nicknamed “Picture Books for Grown-Ups“. It’s filled with illustrated books of all kinds – comics, memoirs, picture books that deal with intense subject matters or adult humor, illustrated novels, and quirky coffee table-esque finds. But by browsing through our shelves or asking one of our booksellers, you’ll find a picture book for any adult or teen.
You’ll find picture books for modern design-lovers:
and everything in between.
The point, my friends, is that there’s a picture book for everyone.
What’s your favorite picture book that you’ve purchased for yourself or given as a gift to other adults? Let us know in the comments below.