Born in 1929 (and still very much alive as of this posting), Carle began his career writing and illustrating at a relatively late age, publishing his first work, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See as a collaboration with writer Bill Martin Jr. in 1967. Prior to this, he had been working as an art director.
Carle soon began writing and illustrating his own books using a distinctive collage technique, his first being 1, 2, 3 To The Zoo. Two years into his new career, however, he published what has to be one of the most recognizable children’s picture books of the last 60 years at least, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Although Eric’s work isn’t my absolute favorite, I can’t deny that there’s a sort of genius to it. He creates his stories with a keen eye for riveting color combinations and an obviously deep appreciation of how tactile elements such as die-cuts and raised printing can turn a picture book into an interactive experience for children.
Caterpillar may be his most recognizable work, but his legacy appears to be his devotion to picture books and the artists who create or contribute to them. In 2002, Eric and his wife opened the doors to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, a 40,000 square foot facility dedicated to “inspiring…an appreciation for and an understanding of the art of the picture book,” as the museum’s website states. I haven’t a clue why I didn’t consider visiting when I was practically living in Massachusetts this summer. I plan on visiting when I’m there next year.
According to Carle’s website at http://www.eric-carle.com, he currently has 40 books in print, with many others being written and illustrated.