Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

I spent last week in northwestern Massachusetts.  I love the area for many reasons, mostly because there are so many great events and museums.  We enjoyed a trip to the Williams Theatre Festival, the Clark Museum, Tanglewood (summer home of the Boston Pops Orchestra), street fairs, and more.

One of the highlights every year is the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.  It's a lovely little museum dedicated to the beauty of books. 

This year there was a great exhibit titled, "The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats."  I remember reading The Snowy Day when I was very young.  But I never realized how influential and pioneering this book was. 

The exhibit did a fascinating job telling about how ground-breaking this Caldecott-winner was.  The Snowy Day was the first full-color picture book put out by a major publisher featuring an African-American child as the protagonist.  And not only that, but as Keats pointed out, "My book would have him there simply because he should have been there all along,”   (more info here).  Keats was not putting his main character, Peter, there to prove anything, he was just a boy exploring a snow-covered city.

 Not only are the galleries of this museum wonderful, but there is a charming studio where kids can work on Carle-esque collages and drawings.  And to top it all off, the gift shop is a wonderfully dangerous place.  Imagine all the best books for kids in one room... I have yet to make it out of there with less than four new books.

This year I picked up Jennie's Hat by Mr. Keats, This is the Dream by Diane Shore & Jessica Alexander, Women of Hope: African Americans Who Made A Difference by Joyce Hansen, and a surprise gift for a friend.  I also bought some Very Hungry Caterpillar-inspired borders and name plates.  I can't wait to incorporate them into some fresh classroom decor (okay...maybe I can wait a few weeks still!).

One of these years I hope to stop by when Eric is in the building.  What a nugget.

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