Wednesday, April 10, 2002

More on Perspectives in Children's Literature

Okay, the first keynote speaker at the Perspectives in Children's Literature Conference was Eric Carle, who is famous for a little something called The Very Hungry Caterpiller, though, personally, I prefer Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, a book by Bill Martin, Jr. that Carle illustrated. He gave a fantastic talk on design, looking at art, and his mentors and how they influenced him. What I really loved about this guy was that he said right up front that he was a kid who didn't like school and wasn't a great student. Though he always had a passion for art and a talent that was recognized at an early age, he wasn't a child genius or prodigy, something I, for one, am seeing an awful lot of in fiction, movies, TV, etc. What about the rest of us who have trouble getting with the program before the age of 10? 16? 20? Is there no hope for us? Carle's speech was a message of hope for all the kids who are like young Eric.

Carle also spoke about something I knew nothing about, which is probably easy to do since there are so many things I know nothing about. In this case I mean The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. This museum is the work of Carle and his wife, whose name, I'm sorry to say, I've forgotten. After seven years of effort, it's expected to open in November, 2002 near Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Except for a gallery in Texas that sells picture book art, this museum is believed to be the first of its kind in this country. (There are supposed to be around 20, of various sizes, in Japan.) Carle envisions it as being a place where children can have their first experience visiting an art museum. It will have three galleries, an auditorium, a studio where kids can try their hand at art work, a gift shop, a library, and a cafe--an absolute must for kids. Oh, well, a must for me, too.

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