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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Illustrations Rule

On Tuesday I visited the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts, the place where illustrations truly rule the exhibits. My faithful friend was willing to travel the distance despite having been there several other times.

The lobby features four incredible 8' x 16' panels created on Tyvek with things like brooms doing the job his usual paintbrushes do. The blue one reminds me of fish swimming together upstream or in a bright ocean. Someday I need to try painting with acrylics to get the feel for his work in my own hands.

The library was filled with picture books, all organized by the illustrator's last name. It took me a minute to get that organization system. But thankfully, it led me to John Rocco's latest book Blackout. I have been wanting to see this one, and the illustrations and story combined create a wonderful evening (and extended family time) when the power goes out. Though the dark prevails, light from candles, flashlights. and warm human interaction illuminates the darkness. We both loved the book.

In the galleries, an exhibit of Eric Carle's works that speak to friendship transported me back in time a bit. My sons' voices reading A Very Quiet Cricket echoed in my ears. Barbara McClintock's detailed illustrations from The Heartaches of a French Cat (alas, out of print!) kept us enthralled. Displayed on the walls were sketches, notes, and final artwork, but not all pages were reproduced. Thus, we thought we understood the story, but paging through this wordless book revealed all. The final gallery contained numerous pieces of Tomi Ungerer's work. Remember Crictor? It is still a favorite among readers at my school.

The theater featured a Weston Woods production of Tomi Ungerer's The Hat ( The Very Hungry Caterpillar in the lobby is a great place for readers to share a story. The bookstore has more different picture book titles than I have seen for sale in one place. And a visit to the bathroom revealed Carle creature tiles intermingled with the gray ones. What a wonderful place to visit!

And then we headed to the biggest yarn shop I have ever seen...


  1. What a wonderful day, as were they all. I love the photos you took of the four large pieces. I loved reading Black Out with you. And watching The Hat. And moving through the individual rooms of the museum and puzzling out the story of the french cat. And I LOVED visiting the yarn shop!!!!

  2. How envious I am! I hope to make it to this museum sometime. It sounded like you had the perfect companions to enjoy this magical place!

  3. Greetings from Madeline Island, where it is warm enough to actually swim in Lake Superior! Trying not to go online too much and instead sink into the gorgeous serenity of this place, but just had to check my favorite blog . . . So glad your time in VT with brattcat was renewing and stimulating. Can't wait to hear more!

  4. What a good friend you have there - thank you for taking us along, too.

  5. You need to visit the museum, David and Joyce! I'm glad you're on Madeline Island, Joyce. When you get back to the mainland, stop by the Rittenhouse for a lunch. My cousin Wendy and her husband run it with his parents, and they serve incredible meals (not to mention excellent hot fudge sauce!).