I’m sure by now you have all heard of the sad news that children’s book creator Maurice Sendak passed yesterday at the age of 83. Maurice Sendak changed the face of 20th century picture book, most notably with his Caldecott-winning Where the Wild Things Are, a book that is now a staple in every children’s bookstore and cherished so deeply in so many homes around the world. We honor him here at The Carle every day in our logo and remember The Carle’s inaugural exhibit of Maurice Sendak’s artwork in our galleries.
As the world mourns this loss, we also enjoy looking back at our memories of Maurice Sendak, whether they are personal interactions or memories created by spending time reading his books as children or to our own children. I asked Nick Clark, our Chief Curator and personal friend of Maurice, to share with us a very special visit with Maurice at his home in Connecticut last June.
Every once in a while you get to do something very, very special in your job. I had such an opportunity last June.
We had organized an exhibition of Tomi Ungerer’s work in honor of his 80th birthday. Tomi’s relationship to the US was complicated, ultimately even very negative, so it was both exciting and daunting to know he was returning for the first time in many years. I think he was astonished by the warm welcome he received everywhere. Like Maurice, Tomi was a protégé of the legendary editor Ursala Nordstrom, and the two young artists had become dear friends. By last summer, however, that had not seen each other in 37 years. After our exhibition opening, I drove Tomi from Amherst to New York City with an important detour to Maurice’s home in Connecticut. There I was privy to the most heartfelt reunion between the two unconquerable artists (and of course there were a few good laughs at other people’s expense). Maurice asked Tomi how it felt to be back in the states and he replied, “I have been able to make a nice wine out of sour grape.” Certainly the visit with Maurice contributed to this lovely fermentation.
(l-r) Nick Clark, Maurice Sendak, and Tomi Ungerer
Tomi Ungerer and Maurice Sendak
Maurice Sendak and Tomi Ungerer, with Sendak's german shephard Herman
The photographs of us were taken in Maurice’s lovely yard with his beloved shepherd, Herman.
Please feel free to share your own memories of Maurice Sendak and the impact his books have had on your life in comments below.
I received something in the mail the other day. Flat Stanley!
Do you know about Flat Stanley? Flat Stanley first appeared in a book by Jeff Brown, called Flat Stanley, illustrated by Tomi Ungerer (we had an exhibition of his artwork here at The Carle this past summer) in 1964.
Flat Stanley has since been re-illustrated by other authors and a book series of early readers track his worldwide adventures. The books have inspired the Flat Stanley project. Kids can create their own Flat Stanley out of paper send it through the mail to other children and adults who document Flat Stanley’s travels. Kids can track their characters as he has adventures around the country and even the world!
This Flat Stanley was sent to me by my nephew whose 2nd grade class is doing a unit of geography and are using Flat Stanley’s travels to help their lessons. I decided to take Flat Stanley to work with me and send back pictures of what a great time Flat Stanley had at The Carle. I thought you might be interested to see them as well. I’ll let Flat Stanley take it from here:
I can’t believe I met the Caterpillar!
Here I am in front of a giant mural painted by Eric Carle. Blue is my favorite color.
I made some new friends. Here I am with Knuffle Bunny, the Caterpillar, and a Wild Thing.
What? Is there something behind me?
I browsed the amazing bookstore.
I read a lot of great books.
I made some art in the Art Studio. Being made of paper, I was very careful with the scissors.
I even helped out at the cash register. “That will be one million dollars, please.”
I also visited the gallery, but sorry, no photos allowed in there! I had such a great time at The Eric Carle Museum!Thanks for inviting me!
Have your children or students ever made a Flat Stanley? Where would you take your Flat Stanley visitor? And if you ever want to send your Flat Stanley to visit the Eric Carle Museum just let me know. We always have a great time here!
Happy New Year! Hooray! We had a totally fabulous year here at The Carle. Let me share with you a few of our favorite highlights from 2011:
Eric Carle Visit and Book Signing
Eric Carle came to visit not once, but TWICE, this year. Once for his annual summer book signing and then again in September to launch the release of his newest picture book, The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse.
Eric Carle signs his new book. Photo by Kristin Angel
Eric Carle admires the artwork of a young fan. Photo by Kristin Angel
The Carle’s galleries are no longer the only place to see artwork in the Museum. This year we installed two amazing sculptures by renowned artists Leo Lionni and Mo Willems. Eric Carle and Leo Lionni’s family were on hand for the unveiling of Leo Lionni’s sculpture titled, “Imaginary Garden” in July, which is now on view for the public in our Great Hall.
Photo by Jerrey Roberts
Leo Lionni's "Imaginary Garden"
Mo Willem’s bright Red Elephant sculpture is a cheery new addition to our museum’s courtyard. Here’s a link to Mo Willem’s blog where he documents the full journey of the elephant sculpture from idea to installation.
Mo Willems' Red Elephant sculpture at The Carle. Photo by Kristin Angel
Mo Willems signs books for fans. Photo by Kristin Angel
We hosted a year full of fabulous exhibitions. I hope you had the chance to come see them. Each event brought a chance to meet the talented creators behind the artwork. Here’s a small sampling of the authors and illustrators who joined us at The Carle this year for these exhibits.
Monsters & Miracles: A Journey through Jewish Picture Books:
(l-r) Neal Sokol, Alix Kennedy, Uri Shulevitz, Nonny Hogrogian, Nick Clark, Lisa Brown and Ilan Stavans. Photo by Kristin Angel
Partners in Wonder: Selections from the Collection of Jane Yolen
Jane Yolen signs Owl Moon. Photo by Kristin Angel
What a Circus! The Art of Etienne Delessert
Etienne Delessert and David Macaulay. Photo by Kristin Angel
Tomi Ungerer: Chronicler of the Absurd
Eric Carle and Tomi Ungerer. Photo by Kristin Angel
Barbara McClintock’s The Heartaches of a French Cat
Barbara McClintock and David Johnson. Photo by Kristin Angel
Growing Every Which Way But Up: The Children’s Book Art of Jules Feiffer
Leonard Marcus, Jules Feiffer and Kate Feiffer. Photo by Kristin Angel
This year was the 6th annual Carle Honors ceremony in New York City. This year The Carle honored Lois Ehlert (Artist), Jeanne Steig (Angel), Michael di Capua (Mentor) and Karen Nelson Hoyle (Bridge). To learn more about the recipients and about the awards, you can read my blog post from earlier this year here.
Artist award recipient Lois Ehlert
Photo by Johnny Wolf Photography
Angel award recipient Jeanne Steig
Photo by Johnny Wolf Photography
Mentor award recipient Michael di Capua
Photo by Johnny Wolf Photography
Bridge award recipient Karen Nelson Hoyle
Photo by Johnny Wolf Photography
Check out these wonderful decorations from the night to celebrate Artist award recipient Lois Ehlert.
Photo by Johnny Wolf Photography
Guests were greeted by the coconut tree and letters from the well-loved Chicka Chicka Boom Boom picture book and tables featured these absolutely stunning centerpieces. Each centerpiece base is an actual book with beautiful and bright tissue paper flowers bursting from the pages.
Photo by Sandy Soderberg. Sculptures by Marlena Pavich.
Other wonderful events hosted here this past year was a viewing of the children’s literature documentary, The Library of the Early Mind, in our auditorium, with a panel of guests featured in the film including Richard Michelson, Grace Lin and Jane Yolen as well as the director Edward J. Delaney and co-producer, Steven Withrow. Here’s a trailer for the documentary:
And here’s a glimpse at the panel discussion that followed that night at The Carle:
David White, Diane deGroat, Bob Marstall, John Gurney, Greg Ruth, Tomie dePaola, Astrid Sheckels, Ruth Sanderson and Linda Graves. Photo by Kristin Angel
The Very Hungry Caterpillar had a birthday party and made some new friends:
Very Hungry Caterpillar greets fans. Photo by Kristin Angel
We had special storytimes in our Reading Library such as Nancy Ekholm Burkert and her son Rand Burkert’s storytime and blues performance of their new book, Mouse & Lion.
Nancy Ekholm Burkert
And Frank Viva led a storytime of his New York Times Best Illustrated book, Along a Long Road, and then led his audience into The Carle auditorium to see the artwork from the entire book in one long frieze along the length of the auditorium.
Frank Viva. Photo by Kristin Angel
Our annual Educator night was hosted by Lisa Holton, Anita Silvey and Betsy Bird who sparked a wonderfully uplifting discussion about the future of books and technology.
Lisa Holton and Anita Silvey at Educator Night.
Betsy Bird at Educator Night
In 2011, we hosted the first in a series of BERL (Barbara Elleman Research Library) Lectures here at The Carle. This year’s lecture was given by publisher, editor, educator and author-extraordinaire Patricia Lee Gauch.
This year we also launched the Shop’s BookTalk interview series. Each month bookseller Andy interviewed an author or illustrator about their books and career, followed by a book signing. In the past year we interviewed Mordicai Gerstein, Norton Juster, Mo Willems, Diane deGroat, Jarrett Krosoczka, Barry Moser, Jeff Mack, Ted & Betsy Lewin, Sophie Blackall, Brian Floca, John Bemelmans Marciano, John Rocco, Sergio Ruzzier, Beth Krommes and Barney Saltzberg. We are excited to be continuing the interview series into the new year and will be making recordings of the interviews available on our website for our faraway friends.
Mo Willems and Norton Juster
This year also marked the 50th anniversary of a beloved classic, The Phantom Tollbooth. We celebrated this November with a pun-filled Phantom Tollbooth Day with Norton Juster and Leonard Marcus, author of The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth, and guests viewed original Jules Feiffer artwork from the book in our gallery. No Phantom Tollbooth day can be complete without a tollbooth and Toc the dog!
Phantom Tollbooth Day
Phantom Tollbooth Day (Yes, that's me)
We hopped across the river for R. Michelson Galleries 22nd Annual Children’s Illustration Show where the Carle Bookshop sold books by the featured artists, including special guests Jules Feiffer and Roger Sutton. There was a quite a turn out! Here’s a photo from the night.
Front Row: Paul Jacobs, Rebecca Guay, Diane deGroat, Richard Michelson, Karla Gudeon, Sara Levine, Carol Weis, Angela DiTerlizzi, Heidi Stemple Second Row: Steven Withrow, Lesley Breen Withrow, Jennifer Swender, Jane Yolen, Jane Dyer, Barry Moser, Burleigh Muten, Barbara Diamond Goldin, Lesleá Newman, Kathy Brown, Tony DiTerlizzi. Third Row: Wendell Minor, Jules Feiffer, Raul Colón, David Hyde Costello, Neil Waldman.
Back Row: Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Tom Warburton, Scott Fischer, Mo Willems, , David Milgrim
Lastly, we ended the year with some great presentations about the best books of 2011. First Horn Book editors Roger Sutton and Martha Parravano shared their picks while talking about their book, A Family of Readers. Click here to see what books they loved from this year.
Roger Sutton and Martha Parravano
In December, Susan Bloom was back for her annual Picture Books of Distinction lecture, where she highlighted her picks for the year’s best picture books. Click here for her list. We’re so excited to see what will win the Caldecott and what the new year will bring.
Looking ahead, we have so many exhibitions and events that we’re excited about. We’re especially looking forward to The Carle’s 10th anniversay!
Did you have a favorite moment at The Carle this year? I’d love to hear some of your memories. Happy New Year!
I can’t believe July is already over! What a whirlwind of a month! Now we’re right in the middle of our summer season here at The Carle, looking back at what exciting events we’ve had already.
Earlier this month we unveiled a one-of-a-kind Leo Lionni sculpture in our Great Hall called The Imaginary Garden, during a very special night hosted by Eric Carle and Leo Lionni’s family. You can now come by at any time to admire this amazing piece of art. Here’s a link to an article from The Hampshire Gazette about the sculpture unveiling.
In celebration of this new Lionni sculpture, we’ve launched a new set of postcards in the Shop. You can now find seven images from some of our favorite Lionni picture books. I think this Tillie and the Wall postcard is my favorite, but it’s so hard to choose!
Our biggest event of the month was, of course, Meet Eric Carle day! We had over 400 fans come through our doors to meet Eric Carle and get their books signed!
That day we also released a new version of the favorite resource video, Eric Carle: Picture Writer. This updated version, The Art of the Picture Book, is now for sale in our Shop. It’s a lovely 30 minute video that gives viewers the chance to really get to know Eric Carle, his life, his books and his art.
We added a number of new Eric Carle toys to our Shop this month as well, including the adorable plush Caterpillar Rocker Toy. This is flying out of our shop so fast! It’s no surprise, either. Look how cute it is!
Our Tomi Ungerer exhibit has been pulling in visitors from across the country this month. Here’s a link to the article that appeared in the New York Times about the show, and be sure to check out this lovely photo slideshow. I love hearing customers exclaim “I remember this!” when they pick up a copy of one of Ungerer’s books for the first time in over thirty years. Such a wonderful moment.
In addition to Eric Carle, this month we’ve hosted some wonderful author and illustrator events. Barry Moser gave a wonderful ShopTalk interview in our Auditorium, Holly Hobbie drew a big crowd for her special storytime in the Reading Library and Jeff Mack, David Hyde Costello and Melanie Hope Greenberg each taught their own illustration course in our Art Studio.
Looking forward, we’re sure to have another bustling summer month this August. We’ve scheduled not one, but TWO Shop Talk interviews. Join us this Sunday, August 7th at 11:30 am for an interview with local artist and author Jeff Mack and then Sunday, August 14th at 11:30 for an interview with husband and wife book illustrators Ted and Betsy Lewin. I can’t wait! Be sure to check our website and Facebook pages for more upcoming events.
When he was here at The Carle, Tomi Ungerer mentioned that he liked to create books about animals which are normally hated, “just to show that everybody is different, but everyone has something.” Today, let’s hear it for the under-appreciated animals that rarely make appearances in children’s books because they might be considered too scary, too ugly or too unlikeable. The below artists bravely blazed past the option of books about fluffy bunnies and cute puppies to bring you books about spiders, rats and snakes, making our collection all that more complete. Below are 10 occasionally misunderstood animals. Can you name what book each is from? Good luck and I’ll see you back here on Friday for the answers!
What an amazing weekend! We’re still all glowing from the excitement of having Tomi Ungerer visit us for the opening of his exhibition this weekend. Tomi Ungerer: Chronicler of the Absurd will be open in our East Gallery until October 9th.
We celebrated Tomi’s visit with a Member’s reception on Saturday night, which included a delightful Q & A in our auditorium with Tomi Ungerer and the guest curator for the exhibit, Michael Patrick Hearn. They were given a charming introduction by Eric Carle, himself, who came up from his home in North Carolina for this special occasion. It turns out that although they were creating books in New York around the same time, Tomi and Eric never met. This evening marked their first meeting, but they found they had so much in common! Both came to the United States as young immigrants with only a small amount of money and were able to find graphic work in New York City and ultimately launch successful picture book careers. They both stressed experiencing the “American dream” where everyone was genuinely nice to them and America was truly the land of opportunity.
Eric Carle and Tomi Ungerer
Tomi Ungerer made us tear up a little bit when he took a moment on stage to thank Eric Carle for opening this museum and putting so much support behind it. Tomi Ungerer’s home city of Strasbourg, France opened The Tomi Ungerer Museum-International Center of Illustration in 2007, which is completely government funded. He acknowledged that wasn’t how things were done in the United States and that he truly applauded Eric Carle for the work he has done to start and keep a picture book art museum alive in the US. “You are an absolute missionary of culture,” Tomi told Eric. “It brings tears to my eyes.”
Eric Carle, Michael Patrick Hearn and Tomi Ungerer
The conversation touched on so many wonderful aspects of Tomi Ungerer’s work. He always creates books for himself, books he would have wanted to read as a child. He liked to be scared as kid, and thinks it’s important for books for children to deal with fears. “It’s wonderful to teach children to overcome it. You have to overcome your fears to stay alive as an adult.” This is the reason so many of his books deal with prejudice, racism or violence, because he believes it’s important for children to be aware of these things in our world and know how to deal with them. He enjoys creating books about animals which are normally hated, like snakes or vultures, to show that “everybody is different, but everyone has something.” He empowers his child characters because he knows that “adults are more stupid than children. Children have opinions and no one ever listens.”
His books are filled with visual puns and children usually are quick to spot deliberate inconsistencies and jokes. “I’m a professional practical joker,” he said. “I love the absurd.”
Ungerer let us in on the ideas behind the creation of many of his picture books and spoke a bit about his friendships with illustrators like Maurice Sendak and Shel Silverstein. He spoke of his American editors Ursula Nordstrom and Susan Hirschman (who was in attendance) with great admiration and respect. Although his books fell out of favor with American audiences in the 70′s and Ungerer himself left the U.S. for Canada and then Europe, he is pleased there is finally a publisher, Phaidon Press, bringing his books back into the English market. “It’s so encouraging to be back in the English world.” And it was so wonderful for us to have you here with us this weekend, Tomi.
In addition to the Q & A, members and Museum friends enjoyed a reception in the Great Hall on Saturday night. Here are a few fun photos from the night:
Jerry Pinkey, Istvan Banyai and Etienne Delessert
Mo Willems and Norton Juster
David Johnson and Barbara McClintock
On Sunday, Tomi was back to do a personal gallery tour of his exhibition. He admitted being slightly embarrassed at seeing some of his early drafts and sketches. “When I do a book, I never look at it again.” The exhibition is a retrospective of Tomi’s artwork, chronicling the artist’s process from draft to finished piece and, despite feeling embarrassed to see some of the unfinished art and sketches on display, Tomi seemed very pleased with the exhibit.
Following the tour, Tomi did a book signing for the public, and signed seemingly hundreds of books for fans. Here’s a photo of a young fan meeting Tomi on Sunday:
We were so grateful for the opportunity to have Tomi Ungerer here during his short trip to the United States this week and hope that all of you get to see this marvelous exhibition this summer! Click here to see the exhibition catalog and browse our extensive selection of Tomi Ungerer books.
We are incredibly honored and excited to announce that Tomi Ungerer will be attending the opening of his exhibition, Tomi Ungerer: Chronicler of the Absurd, here at The Carle this weekend. We kick off the opening weekend with an intimate Member reception the evening of Saturday, June 18th, with a presentation by guest curator and children’s literature scholar, Michael Patrick Hearn, to be followed Sunday afternoon by a personal gallery tour with Ungerer and a book signing outside our Shop.
This is truly a special event as Tomi Ungerer is coming overseas for his first trip back to the United States in many years and will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many to meet this world-renowned artist. As our director Alix Kennedy points out in the introduction to the exhibition catalog for the show, Ungerer’s American publisher Phaidon Press has cheekily called him, “the most famous children’s book author you have never heard of.” While Ungerer’s picture books were extremely popular in the United States during the 1960′s and Ungerer was a well known graphic artist in New York City, his work is not as well known to the younger American generations. Ungerer, winner of the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen award, is still very well known and loved in Europe, with his own museum in his hometown of Strasbourg, France. Together with Phaidon’s republication of many of Ungerer’s out-of-print titles, this exhibition will most certainly inspire new and old fans here at The Carle.
For this exhibition, we’ve picked up everything in print we could get our hands on to sell in our bookstore. This includes all in-print English editions, as well as rare titles in German and French that are still unavailable (or never even published!) in the United States. Click here to browse our selection.
What I love about Ungerer’s work is the respect he gives his child audiences. Words and stories are not watered down. Why use the name tree, when you can say willow? Why say gun, when you can call it a blunderbuss? His well-known picture book characters are not fluffy bunnies, but a boa constrictor, an octopus, a vulture, and a bat, and he makes them lovable, endearing and funny. Ungerer understands that childhood isn’t always rosy and innocent. “Children have to be faced with the absurd,” he says, “because the world is absurd.” Here’s a great video by Phaidon Press of Ungerer talking about this:
Ungerer’s absurd and satirical art often went unappreciated or misunderstood in the United States. In the 70′s he began creating anti-Vietnam War posters and exploring erotic art, causing the children’s book audience to question and even stop buying his work. Ungerer left New York for Canada and then Ireland, where he now lives. For more information, visit Tomi Ungerer’s website (even follow him on Twitter!) or read this recent Q & A over at Publisher’s Weekly or this interview from The New York Times. I’m also excited for the upcoming documentary about Tomi Ungerer, Far Out Isn’t Far Enough, from Fools Day Productions. You can watch a trailer for it here.
In his essay in the exhibition catalog, curator Michael Patrick Hearn says of Ungerer, “one either loves his work or hates it. There is no middle ground.” I, for one, love Ungerer’s work and I think you will too. Hope to see you some time this weekend! And, as always, if you can’t make it to The Carle, order your books online here (include a note in the Customer Note section if you’d like it autographed) and we’ll ship them to you after the weekend.