“Let's put it this way: if you are a novelist, I think you start out with a 20 word idea, and you work at it and you wind up with a 200,000 word novel. We, picture-book people, or at least I, start out with 200,000 words and reduce it to 20.” – Eric Carle
As a journalist I've been told time and again to “write tight.” In other words, say everything you can about a topic so that it is crystal clear in as few words as possible, because space is always at a premium. Writing as journalists might be good training for children’s book writers. But if I were an editor I’d be asking someone like Eric Carle the best way to write tight, because he’s been an expert at it for over 50 years. Of course his wonderful artwork also doesn’t hurt either.
Carle turned 88 this week and shows no sign of easing up on utilizing his creativity on behalf of children everywhere. The author of mega-sellers like The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Carle said he has always attempted to make his books both entertaining and educational – offering readers opportunities to learn something about the world. He also advises writers wanting to work in the children’s literary genre’ to “recognize children’s feelings, inquisitiveness and creativity.”
In 2003 Carle won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for his career contribution to American children’s literature. “We have eyes, and we're looking at stuff all the time, all day long,” Carle said. “I just think that whatever our eyes touch should be beautiful, tasteful, appealing, and important.”
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