If you've got a little one around, chances are there is at least one or two or three Eric Carle books on your bookshelf. An even greater chance you have been asked to read them over and over...and over again. Who doesn't love Eric Carle? Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Draw me A Star, Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me. Oh and of course the very very cool ones like... The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Busy Spider, The Very Quiet Cricket. The boys and I are fans.
I had a hunch there was a story behind his stories. And what a story it is! A life-changing move as a child living in New York back to his parents' hometown in Germany. A father held captive in a Russian prison. Living in fear and surviving strict discipline in his new German school. And the ultimate result: his vow, as an artist, to help children enjoy school more than he ever did. I now have a clearer, better understanding of Eric Carle. I love his books even more. If that is even possible.
On his move back to Berlin: "When it became apparent that we would not return, I decided that I would become a bridge builder. I would build a bridge from Germany to America and take my beloved German grandmother by the hand across the wide ocean."
How the difficult days in a rigid school inspired his books: "I am fascinated by the period in a child's life when he or she, for the first time, leaves home to go to school. I should like my books to bridge that great divide."
On how long walks, filled with stories and discovery, helped jump-start his love affair with nature: "My father would turn over a rock and show me the little creatures that scurried and slithered about. I try to recall that feeling when I write my books."
Emma Brockes' article This one's got legs, over at the Guardian, does a great job of helping us see what's behind the man and his pages. You can read it right here .
On my little trip down nosey-lane, I also discovered Eric Carle has his own blog . How cool is that. A perfect little corner that answers some of my own whys and hows. A look into his current passions, including the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art . An opportunity to give us a glimpse of what a day in his life is like. And a rare treat to fill us in on where he finds inspiration.