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Thursday, June 24, 2021

'Beautiful, Tasteful, Appealing and Important'

“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 I reduce it to 20.” – Eric Carle

Writing as a journalist would be good training for the writer of children’s books, but if I were an editor I’d be asking someone like Carle the best way to write them, because he was an expert at it with the award-winning books he produced.  Of course his wonderful artwork didn’t hurt either.

Carle, who was born on June 25, 1929 and died last month, was the author of the mega-selling best sellers, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?   He said he always attempted to make his books both entertaining and educational – offering readers opportunities to learn something about the world around them.  He also advised writers wanting to work in the childrens’ literature genre’ to “recognize children’s feelings, inquisitiveness and creativity.”

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which has very few words but speaks volumes, has been translated into 58 languages and sold over 40 million copies.  Overall, Carle illustrated or wrote 70 books with 125 million copies in print.  In 2003 he 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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