'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Sunday 8 December 2013

Review: The Art of Eric Carle

“A book needs to be composed like a symphony, a duet, or a quiet piece of chamber music. A style and flow must be established. But most of all, one should have an open mind and listen to one’s intuition: the unexplainable, the coincidental, even the quirky. Look at the crack in the ceiling and see it take on a shape and a voice.”

There are few lovers of picture books, who wouldn’t have heard of Eric Carle. If you don’t recognise his name, you will likely have heard of his most famous book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

In The Art of Eric Carle you’ll discover that The Very Hungry Caterpillar began life as A Week With Willi Worm. In fact, it started as a series of holes, with the caterpillar story coming afterwards. Others of his books started with a desire to explore the concept of size, or an appreciation for nature.

However, there’s a lot more to Eric Carle than hungry caterpillars, mixed-up chameleons, busy spiders and other animals. Through The Art of Eric Carle we get to explore his unique style and browse a selection of his artwork. We learn how he became a picture book creator, and how he writes and illustrates with young children in mind. The role of colour is discussed, as is his collage technique. A photo essay is used to demonstrate this technique, which involves painting single sheets of tissue paper, applying colours and brushstrokes as required, drawing illustrations, then applying the coloured tissue paper collage, before using crayons and coloured pencils to add the final touches.

As a child, Eric had a curiosity for animals, and his art ability was discovered early and encouraged by a teacher and his mother. He shares this and other anecdotes about his life in an autobiographical chapter of the book. Also included is the transcript of a speech Eric gave for International Children’s Book Day in 1990, titled ‘Where do ideas come from?’ which gives even more insight into the influences on his life and work.

Many of the words in The Art of Eric Carle are those of Eric Carle himself, but there are also contributions from a publisher, a curator and an editor.

Read this book and be inspired by one of the world’s foremost picture book creators.

Title: The Art of Eric Carle
Author: Eric Carle
Publisher: G. P. Putnam, $38.99 RRP
Publication Date: 1998
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780399229374
For ages: 14+
Type: Non-fiction