“Eric, come out of your cocoon!”: A tribute to author and artist Eric Carle, 1929-2021
This month we pay homage to beloved author and illustrator of children’s books Eric Carle who, with bold shapes, color and stories marinated in kindness, enticed generations of parents and grandparents to snuggle-up and read to their little ones.
Eric Carle’s most beloved memory of his education was the experience he had in first grade as a student in Miss Frickey’s class. He was deeply affected by “her kind presence, bright paints and brushes and the large white sheets of paper in her classroom.” Although he was a self- professed poor student who hated school and dropped out at age 16, a seed had been planted. He later graduated from a prestigious art school in Stuttgart, Germany and, at age 22, became a graphic designer for the New York Times. But at that point he was still very much a caterpillar.
It wasn’t until he was 39 that he truly heeded the words his father had often said to him as a kid, “Eric, come out of your cocoon!”. In 1968 his bold, colorful artwork was noticed by author, Bill Martin J, and out of the blue Eric was asked to illustrate the children’s book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? His artist’s wings were about to unfold as he suddenly and very happily found himself reunited with the pencils, fat paint brushes, crayons and paper of his childhood. He soon began to write his own stories to illustrate and within a year, at age 40, Eric was on his way to creating his most well-known children’s book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Eric Carle’s more than 70 colorful board-book page-turners have served to entice parents to read together with their little ones, introducing their children to the beauty of books, a love of reading and the importance of kindness ever since. Thank you for following your father’s wise words, Eric Carle, and leading so many kids to the joy of reading, and then to the joy of reading to their own children and to their children’s children!
Rest in Peace Eric Carle.
For more about Eric Carle and his work, visit his official website at https://eric-carle.com/