Thursday, May 1, 2008

One Amazing Author

Eric Carle is more than just a picture book author/illustrator -- he's an icon in the children's publishing world. So, despite the ridiculously high gas prices, my friend Steph and I made the trek to Indy last Friday evening to hear him speak.

Charming and engaging at the age of 79, Carle delivered the 31st annual Marian McFadden Memorial Lecture to a packed house. Kids were fidgeting, babies were crying, and everyone else was hanging on every word of this amazingly talented man.

As a publishing newbie back in the late 1960s, Carle said, "I didn't think of children and their visual and literary needs... I simply wrote books I enjoyed."

The Very Hungry Caterpillar actually started out as Willi the Worm, but through discussions with his editor and some experimenting with a hole puncher, the award-winning book was born.

"I developed each story like a play, with a curtain, beginning, middle, end, and then a curtain again," said Carle.

Carle showed slides of how he develops his unique collage illustrations: He paints tissue paper and then cuts or tears it to form the images in his books. The process was fascinating to see.

"Each sheet is a work of art in itself, and I hesitate to cut it," Carle said.

Since I don't have much artistic talent myself (OK, I can barely draw stick figures), I was amazed at how easy Carle made it look. He is truly an amazingly gifted artist.

At the end of his speech, Carle shared some humorous letters from his young readers. This was my favorite:

"I would like to visit you, but I'm not allowed to cross the street."

Too cute!

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