The Very Busy Author: In Honor of Eric Carle

Seahorse by Addie

Seahorse by Addie

I got my first library job the summer of my freshman year at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts.  One afternoon, I just happened to stumble into the Jones Library (a lovely public library in town with a vast children’s collection), and even though I was already working as an intern for the local paper, I asked the woman at the children’s desk if they had any jobs available.

I have no idea why I did that, and even less of an idea why they hired me, but for the next three years I worked in the children’s room: checking out books, answering questions, shelving, filing cards in the card catalog (yes, I am THAT old!), and shelf-reading.  It was baffling to me that I was getting paid to be there, because I loved every minute of it.  And one day, after an arduous meeting with my thesis advisor, I was so relieved to get to my library shift, that I realized in a rush that this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

I haven’t been back to Amherst since 2001, which means I just missed the opening of The Eric Carle Museum there. I would love to visit it, especially since it hosts so many wonderful children’s authors and exhibits.  And I would love to meet Eric Carle himself, who was always one of my childhood favorites (I especially loved The Grouchy Ladybug.  and I whacked that whale’s tale at the end so many times that it eventually ripped off).

As I kid, I don’t think I ever appreciated the genius of Eric Carle, specifically how each of his books teaches something: the days of the week, how to tell time, how a spider builds a web, etc.  The repeated words and phrases also make his books great for beginning readers.  But all that is like spinach secretly hidden in a batch of chocolate chip cookies (which apparently is a thing!).  You don’t even notice it, because the story is fun to read, and the illustrations are irresistible.

So last week’s family storytime was in honor of Eric Carle.  Here is what we read:

bluehorse

The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse (Amazon.com link)

Based on the art of Franz Marc, who was famous for his paintings of blue horses, this book shows a boy describing his unusual animal paintings: a red crocodile, a yellow cow, a black polar bear, a polka dotted donkey, etc.  It’s simple enough for toddlers to enjoy, but fun for all ages.  Kids love books that break the rules, and this one gives them permission to go out and paint their own wild creations.  Two first grade girls vied to check this one out in the end.

caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Amazon.com link)

I had to read this one, and not just because my daughter is raising caterpillars at home right now.  When my son was born, my former boss from Amherst sent me a board book copy of this from the Eric Carle Museum.  Both of my kids have always loved it.  They especially enjoy sticking their fingers through the holes on each page.  It’s a naturally interactive read-aloud, since you can ask kids to name the foods the caterpillar ate each day, and to chime in every time you say, “But he was still hungry.”  The kids at storytime were all excited to see it, even though (or maybe especially because) most of them had a copy at home.

misterseahorse

Mister Seahorse (Amazon.com link)

When Mrs. Seahorse deposits her eggs in Mister Seahorse’s pouch, he proudly swims around meeting other fish fathers, who each have their own way of guarding their offspring: carrying their eggs in their mouths or on top of their heads.  But there are many other fish he doesn’t see, because of their clever ways of hiding.  The camouflaged fish are revealed behind clear plastic “peek-a-book” pages (as a kid, I was fascinated by the Human Body section of the World Book Encyclopedia, where you could flip the transparent pages to see the layers of bones, organs and muscles.  I would have loved this book for the same reason).  A great book for teaching about ocean life and camouflage.  One girl asked why the baby seahorses swim away from their father as soon as they are born, which led to an interesting discussion about instinct.

birthdaymessage

The Secret Birthday Message (Amazon.com link)

A mysterious message provides shape-themed clues leading to a birthday surprise.  Fun, simple, adventure that would be great lead-in to a scavenger hunt, or a unit on maps or shapes.

hermit

A House for Hermit Crab (Amazon.com link)

Another ocean-themed book, this one about a hermit crab who has outgrown his shell.  He finds a new one, but is dismayed that it is so plain, so as he travels, he asks other creatures to attach to his shell and make it more decorative.  Lovely way to learn about a variety of ocean animals and the names of the months.

SONGS:

I Bought Me a Rooster

To go along with The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse, we sang this song, and I asked the kids to supply silly animal and color combinations: purple dog, rainbow horse, etc.  Here are the words with the ukulele chords (click on the triangle for the tune):

C
I bought a yellow rooster and the rooster pleased me
C G7
I fed my rooster on the bayberry tree
C F
My yellow rooster goes, “Cock-a-doodle doo!
C F G7 C
Dee Doodle, Dee Doodle, Dee Doodle, Dee Doo!”

I bought a purple dog and the purple dog pleased me
I fed my purple dog on the bayberry tree
My purple dog goes “Woof! Woof! Woof!”
My yellow rooster goes, “Cock-a-doodle doo!
Dee Doodle, Dee Doodle, Dee Doodle, Dee Doo!”

If All the Raindrops

We sang this one after The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and the kids suggested foods to be the rain, including popsicles and chocolate:

C
If all the raindrops
G7                           C
Were lemondrops and gumdrops
C                                                 G7
Oh, what a rain that would be!
C                G7                           C                    G7
Standing outside, with my mouth open wide
C                 G7               C                 G7
Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah!
C                                           G7                           C
If all the raindrops were lemondrops and gumdrops,
C                   G7                     C
Oh, what a rain it would be!

CRAFT: Dot Paint Seahorse

Seahorse by Olivia

Seahorse by Olivia

Seahorse by Shelby

Seahorse by Shelby

I printed out a seahorse template from this web site. I was originally going to have the kids glue scraps of colored tissue paper on the seahorse, but I ended up letting them use Do A Dot Markers instead, which was far less messy.  They had a great time playing with the different colors.  I liked that one little girl said her dots were the seahorse’s eggs.  Another used the Dot Markers to color in the whole seahorse, which isn’t easy to do.  A third used regular markers to add seaweed.

What is your favorite Eric Carle book?

 

3 thoughts on “The Very Busy Author: In Honor of Eric Carle

  1. I love this post! I attended Mount Holyoke and had the most fortunate chance to work at the Carle Museum as my work-study job during my time at MHC – in their reading library, no less. They trained me in story telling and their way of cataloging (everything in the Carle’s library is by illustrator first, interestingly enough). That opportunity is the sole reason I am now a children’s librarian. I also took Carle for granted as a child and it is only as an adult that I have fallen in love with his entire portfolio of books and illustrations. I just graduated with my MLS last week and work in two very vibrant children’s rooms at libraries on Long Island, NY. Thank you for posting this!

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