Search form

The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002


  • Thursday, Friday 10 am - 4 pm
  • Saturday 10 am - 5 pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 5 pm

Closed Monday,Tuesday, Wednesday

Accessibility Information

Visit the carle


Picture Books We Love

Torn Paper Poetry: Ed Young's Beyond the Great Mountains

 A Visual Poem about China is shown in a composed shot with a potted plant in the background. The cover of the book displays a torn paper collage of a mountain with the title in metallic blue in front and a red chop stamp of the author?s name Ed Young at the top left hand corner.

Did you know the rough edges of torn piece of paper can be mist, or the leaves of a tree or even the fierce flames of a fire? Inspired by The Carle's recent At Home Art Studio post, Sara from The Carle Bookshop immediately thought of the stunning collage illustrations of Ed Young’s book Beyond the Great Mountains: A Visual Poem about China as an excellent example of how to put the simple art processes of tearing paper to great use!

Illustration shows a tree in front of a big yellow sun. Text shows the chinese character for "East" and the text "Far to the east, a vast fertile plain."

The vertical format of this book is perhaps the first thing you will notice as you open the covers of Beyond the Great Mountains: A Visual Poem about China, published in 2005 by Chronicle Books. Though sadly now out of print, this book by Ed Young, (The 2017 Carle Honors Artist) is a unique celebration of the natural wonders of China and the beautiful history of Chinese writing. Each line of the simple yet expressive poem is on a sort of ‘staircase’ of pages. It can be read without flipping through the pages, each line of text just visible past the edge of the last page. But you’ll definitely want to flip through the pages because the illustrations are just as poetic as the text. Using torn paper collage with a variety of handmade papers, each page displays abstracted, poetic interpretations of nature that show why each ancient pictogram was chosen to represent each feature.  

  ?In winter?s ice, summer?s fire, more plants flourished.?

With so many different facets of interest (what makes a picture book, what makes a poem, how language evolves, how torn paper can be art, etc.) this book is an excellent wealth of lesson material for teachers of all age groups. There’s even a cool index page in the back with a chart of the ancient and modern versions of each calligraphic Chinese character.

Open page spread with an index of both ancient Chinese pictograms and the corresponding modern Chinese character with calligraphic strokes.

The rough torn paper depicts both mist and flames, the words soothe like a lullaby, this book is a visual celebration of the evocative power of poetry! Go to the Art Studio blog for more information on the fun of artistic paper tearing.

Here is picture of Ed Young from our archives, giving his speech at The Carle Honors Gala in 2017.

Ed Young in dramatic shadowed profile holds a microphone as he gives a talk about his work with a paper cut out sculpture of Chinese characters with lights inside in front of him.


Add a New Comment

Leave a reply

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
To Top