Category Archives: Library Events

Happy birthday, Eric Carle

On June 25th, the renowned children’s author and illustrator, Eric Carle, will celebrate his 88th birthday. For almost 50 years, he has brought joy to children around the world with his stories. Since the publication of his most well-known book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, he has worked on over 70 titles. His artwork is instantly recognisable with its use of bright colours and distinctive collage technique (Biographical Notes for Eric Carle, n.d.). In the following video, marking the 40th anniversary of the publication of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle talks about how the book came into being and gives some insight into his art techniques.

Eric Carle-The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Waterstones

Born in New York, Eric Carle moved to Germany with his family when he was six. He returned to America in 1952 and worked as a graphic designer at the New York Times and then as the art director of an advertising agency. His collaboration with Bill Martin Jnr, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, marked the beginning of his career in children’s books (Biographical Notes for Eric Carle, n.d.).

Eric Carle’s picture books often have special features, such as twinkling lights (The Very Lonely Firefly), cut-outs (The Very Hungry Caterpillar) and sounds (The Very Clumsy Click Beetle and The Very Quiet Cricket), which add to the experience of reading for young children. Many have a strong nature theme, such as those about insects or marine life, with additional information provided about the characters in the story.

I have selected ten books written and illustrated by Eric Carle. These span his career as a children’s picture book author from 1969 to the present day.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1969)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

This all-time favorite not only follows the very hungry caterpillar as it grows from egg to cocoon to beautiful butterfly, but also teaches the days of the week, counting, good nutrition and more. Striking pictures and cleverly die-cut pages offer interactive fun (Eric Carle Bibliography, n.d).

It’s hard to believe that The Very Hungry Caterpillar will soon be 50 years old. It has a timeless quality, which appeals to everyone, children and adults alike. It is a fabulous resource for introducing the days of the week and sequential counting.

The Mixed-Up Chameleon (1975)

The Mixed-Up Chameleon

Hilarious pictures show what happens when a bored chameleon wishes it could be more like other animals, but is finally convinced it would rather just be itself. An imagination-stretcher for children (Eric Carle Bibliography, n.d).

This book is all about being yourself, rather than wanting to be someone else. Another picture book with a similar theme is Edward the Emu written by Sheena Knowles and illustrated by Rod Clements.

The Bad-Tempered Ladybird (1977)

The Bad-Tempered Ladybird

A grouchy ladybug who is looking for a fight challenges everyone it meets regardless of their size or strength. How this bumptious bug gets its comeuppance and learns the pleasures to be gained by cheerfulness and good manners is an amusing lesson in social behavior. Die-cut pages add drama and dimension (Eric Carle Bibliography, n.d).

Also known as The Grouchy Ladybug, this story introduces the concepts of telling the time and increasing size as the ladybird spends the day looking for someone to fight!

The Very Busy Spider (1984)

The Very Busy Spider

With the use of raised printing, this innovative book adds the sense of touch to vision and hearing as ways to understand and enjoy the strikingly designed illustrations and the memorable story. Various farm animals try to divert a busy little spider from spinning her web, but she persists and produces a thing of both beauty and usefulness. Enjoyed by all audiences, this book’s tactile element makes it especially interesting to the visually-impaired (Eric Carle Bibliography, n.d).

Children are able to follow the spider’s silken thread with their fingers while learning how it makes its web. Farm animals try to make conversation with the spider, allowing readers to join in with the different noises they make.

A House for Hermit Crab (1987)

A House For Hermit Crab

An underwater fantasy based on the true habits of hermit crabs and the flora and fauna of their marine environment, this book offers young readers an interesting first introduction to marine biology as well as an appealing story of Hermit Crab’s search for a house he can really call his home, as he grows throughout one year’s cycle (Eric Carle Bibliography, n.d).

The months of the year form the structure for this book, with the hermit crab making new friends and adding to his shell as he journeys from January to December. Along the way, children are introduced to a range of sea animals from anemones to lanternfish.

From Head to Toe (1997)

From Head To Toe

“I can do it!” is the confidence-building message of this book. As young children copy the antics of Eric Carle’s animals, they’ll learn such important skills as careful listening, focusing attention, and following instructions. Just as alphabet books introduce letters and simple words, From Head to Toe introduces the basic body parts and simple body movements-the ABC’s of dancing, gymnastics, and other sports activities (Eric Carle Bibliography, n.d).

This is such a fun book to read with children, because it is so interactive. They can mimic the animals as they use the various parts of their bodies in different ways. It is great for developing body awareness and learning to name body parts.

The Very Clumsy Click Beetle (1999)

The Very Clumsy Click Beetle

HEAR the beetle CLICK as it flips through the pages of this book and learns how to land on its feet! Small readers will recognize and empathize with the clumsy little beetle’s eagerness to learn what the older beetle can already do so well. They will understand, too, its frustration when at first it fails. And they will surely rejoice in its eventual spectacular triumph (Eric Carle Bibliography, n.d).

This book is all about perseverance and patience. The different animals the click beetle encounters encourage it to keep on trying. The book features a clicking sound as the page is turned for the final successful flip.

“Slowly, Slowly, Slowly,” Said the Sloth (2002)

Slowly, Slowly, Slowly, Said The Sloth

Slowly, slowly, slowly…that’s how the sloth lives. He hangs upside-down from the branch of a tree, night and day, in the sun and in the rain, while the other animals of the rain forest rush past him. “Why are you so slow? Why are you so quiet? Why are you so lazy?” the others ask the sloth. And, after a long, long time, the sloth finally tells them (Eric Carle Bibliography, n.d)!

In the blurb of the book, Eric Carle asks “Why are we always in a hurry?” The sloth in this story can teach us all about slowing down and experiencing life, rather than dashing from one activity to another. A very zen book!

Mister Seahorse (2004)

Mister Seahorse

Mister Seahorse and fellow fish fathers, who care for their soon-to-be-hatched offspring, share their stories while acetate pages reveal camouflaged creatures who bear witness to the conversation between fathers with fins (Eric Carle Bibliography, n.d).

This is my favourite book by Eric Carle. I love the way information about the different fish fathers that care for their offspring is shared as part of the story rather than in a didactic way. I particularly love poor Mr Tilapia, who can’t answer Mr Seahorse because his mouth is full of eggs! Children also enjoy finding the creatures that are camouflaged behind the see-through pages.

The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse (2011)

The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse

I am an artist and I paint…a blue horse, a red crocodile, a polka-dotted donkey…

Here is a celebration of creativity and colour that will inspire young artists everywhere.

This book was written as a homage to Franz Marc, the German expressionist artist, who was killed during the First World War. He was famous for his paintings of blue horses, hence the book’s title. Each animal is presented in stunning double page spreads with a simple text.

So many of Eric Carle’s books have become classics and this may be because:

The secret of [his]…appeal lies in his intuitive understanding of and respect for children, who sense in him instinctively someone who shares their most cherished thoughts and emotions (Biographical Notes for Eric Carle, n.d.).

Here’s a treat to end with; Eric Carle reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I particularly love the close-up shot of the poor caterpillar with a stomach ache from eating too much food!

Eric Carle reads The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Puffin Books

Happy birthday, Eric Carle! And thank you for the beautiful, funny and informative books that you have created over the last five decades.

All images taken by the author. The quote for The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse taken from the blurb of the book.

Library and Information Week

Next week is Library and Information Week in Australia. Organised by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), the aim is “to raise the profile of libraries and information service professionals” (ALIA, n.d.) through a range of events and activities within library services. This year’s theme, Celebrate!, has been chosen to mark ALIA’s 80th birthday.

Let’s celebrate all that’s wonderful about libraries great…

and small!

National Simultaneous Storytime is one of the events held during Library and Information Week. On Wednesday 24th May at 11am, the picture book, The Cow Tripped Over the Moon, will be read in libraries, schools, early childhood centres, homes and other settings across Australia. The initiative is now in its 17th year and has been very successful in sharing a love of reading with children. It aims to:

promote the value of reading and literacy;
promote the value and fun of books;
promote an Australian writer and publisher;
promote storytime activities in public libraries and communities around the country;
provide opportunities to involve parents, grandparents, the media and others to participate in and enjoy the occasion (ALIA, n.d.)

The ALIA website has a range of resources available to support National Simultaneous Storytime, including ideas for activities, teachers’ notes and merchandise. Organisers are encouraged to register their participation as this will enable them to access digital presentations of the book, which can be used as part of the event.

And this is the book that has been chosen to be read simultaneously around Australia:

The Cow Tripped Over the Moon
Written by Tony Wilson and illustrated by Laura Wood

The Cow Jumped Over The Moon

Hey diddle diddle
You all know the riddle,
A cow jumps over the moon…

But the moon is so high in the sky! How many hilarious attempts will it take before Cow makes her famous high-flying leap?

This brilliant picture book tells the real story behind the cow’s record breaking jump over the moon. It also highlights the importance of perseverance and never giving up on your dream. An excellent choice for National Simultaneous Storytime.

So join in the fun next week and celebrate all that is wonderful about libraries and the people who work in them.

Unless otherwise indicated, all images taken by the author and all quotes taken from the blurb of the book.

A month of reading

As April draws to a close, May will see a focus on the promotion of reading in several countries. In the United Kingdom, it is National Share-a-Story Month (NSSM), which is organised by The Federation of Children’s Book Groups (FCBG), an organisation that seeks to bring children and books together. The theme for 2017 is Picture a Story and one of the aims of the event is “to celebrate the power of illustrations…for all ages” (FCBG, n.d.). The sharing of picture books, along with comics and graphic novels, is also being promoted. Suggested activities include an illustration competition inspired by The Everywhere Bear, the new book from Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb, and a comic creating competition for older children. The FCBG website also contains a number of links to support the event, as well as suggestions for celebrating Picture a Story in digital format.

Sharing a book can happen at any age

Sharing A Story

Reading Together by Matthew Hauck: CC BY-ND 2.0

In May, Get Caught Reading (GCR) is promoted in schools and libraries in the United States. This national campaign was first held in 1999 to celebrate the enjoyment that reading brings people of all ages. The GCR website includes a range of resources, such as posters, newsletters and videos, to support the initiative. Suggested activities include taking photos of family, friends and community members (shopkeepers, police officers, etc.) caught reading and using these to create displays to encourage reading.

Someone got caught reading!

Caught Reading

Reading by Eugene Kim: CC BY 2.0

Wherever in the world you are, enjoy reading during May and throughout the rest of the year! Together let’s share a story, get caught reading and celebrate the joy found in books.

International Children’s Book Day

April 2nd is Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday. It is also International Children’s Book Day (my apologies for the belated post, but I’m still getting the hang of this blogging lark!). Organised by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), it is “celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books” (IBBY, n.d). The event for 2017 is sponsored by IBBY Russia, with the theme Let us grow with the book!

Let everyone grow with the book! 

IBBY was “established by the visionary Jella Lepman following the devastation of the Second World War, [and] is devoted to encouraging excellence in children’s books, to supporting literacy and reading projects across the world, and to developing international understanding through children’s books” (IBBY UK, 2017). The non-profit organisation has a number of activities aimed at “bringing children and books together” (IBBY, n.d.). Their Children In Crisis Fund supports projects to replace or create libraries in areas that have experienced natural disasters or conflict. Another initiative is Silent Books, “a collection of children’s books without words, created as a response to the need for books on the Italian island of Lampedusa, the destination for many refugees fleeing North Africa and the Middle East” (IBBY, n.d.).

Michael Rosen at the 33rd IBBY International Congress, another IBBY activity

IBBY Congress

IBBY Congress 2012 by Jack Dix Davies: CC BY-NC 2.0

Along with International Children’s Book Day, IBBY presents the biennial Hans Christian Andersen Award to authors and illustrators, who have made a significant contribution to children’s literature. Recipients include the authors, Martin Waddell, Margaret Mahy, Katherine Paterson, Astrid Lingren and Tove Jansson, and the illustrators, Quentin Blake, Anthony Browne, Robert Ingpen and Maurice Sendak.

Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen by Thora Hallager (1821-1884): Public Domain

The article, Hans Christian Andersen: Father of the Modern Fairy Tale by Terri Windling, provides information about the writer. It makes interesting reading and gives an insight into the man behind such fairy tales as The Snow Queen, The Princess and the Pea, and The Little Mermaid.

As we celebrate International Children’s Book Day, let’s embrace the important work of IBBY and promote children’s literature every day, helping all children to grow with books!