Sunday, November 11, 2012

Kids at Heart: A Visit to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

The library in our town of Clifton Park offers a really neat program that allows you to check out passes to museums all over the Capital Region and surrounding areas.  In the past we've used the pass program to visit  the National Museum of Horse Racing in Saratoga Springs.  The library recently added a few new places, including the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts.  After reading up on the museum, we decided this weekend would be a good time to visit, during the 10th Anniversary Book Signing Bash.  Amherst is about two hours away from Clifton Park, so we knew it was going to be an all day event.

We are huge fans of Eric Carle ever since our introduction to the Grouchy Ladybug.  It's one of Colt's favorite books and we also have the Grouchy Ladybug toy.  The Museum was having a special "Doodles for Dollars" event that allowed folks to meet and have their favorite authors & illustrators draw personalized pictures for $10.  Eric Carle, along with Tony DiTerlizzi and Peter Laird, were on hand to do the honors.  The museum opened at noon, when we arrived at 12:30, we ran into this:

Not a good sign, right?  Each artists were only doing 100 doodles and by the time we reached the ticket counter, Eric Carle was sold out.  We were lucky enough to snag tickets to Tony DiTerlizzi, and Peter Laird.  And what a treat it was to have them doodle for us!

Tony DiTerlizzi co-created the Spiderwick Chronicles with Holly Black.  He was happy to draw us Byron, a griffin with a hawk's head and a lion's body.

His adorable daughter Sophia also drew us a picture of a fairy and a snowflake, but the woman in front of us in line grabbed it before we knew what was going on. Thanks lady, thanks a lot.

Peter Laird was our next stop in line.  The comic book writer and artists is best known for co-creating the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Heather chickened out and did not tell him the story of how her 6th grade softball team used to wear TMNT band-aids on our middle fingers and huddle up on the pitchers mound to point our fingers to the sky, inadvertently flipping everyone off, while yelling "Turtle Power!" before the start of every game.  (We thought we were soooo cool.)

The Massachusetts native told us he came up with the idea for TMNT while drawing silly pictures to make a buddy laugh.  He estimates he's drawn 10's of thousands of turtles in his lifetime!

We figured one more turtle wouldn't hurt him....

We didn't get to have anything signed by Eric Carle, but we did get really close to him.  Like, retraining order close!

Actually, he seemed to be a really nice guy!  Since he was sort of the main attraction, he offered up a choice of drawings for those lucky enough to get tickets.  We overheard a museum employee talking about how the line started forming at 7:30 in the morning!

The Book Signing Bash also included 12 other children's authors and illustrators, so we got to see Kathryn Brown, Nancy Ekholm Burkert, Bruce Degen, Jerry PinkneyEtienne Delessert, Barbara McClintock, Linda Gramatky Smith, Paul O. Zelinsky, Jane Dyer, Mordicai Gerstein, Barry Moser, and Donald Saaf.

Bruce Degen, illustrator for The Magic School Bus, signed a book for Mrs. Gunter!
 Thankfully, Colt didn't spend much time waiting in the long lines with his mom.  He & his dad got to sit in on story time with Bruce Degen!

What we loved about the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art was that it is perfect for children of all ages!  Even the bathrooms are suited for tiny humans...

Wonder what Brown Bear sees in the bathroom?
We were lucky enough to get to see Eric Carle's most famous work, The Very Hungry Caterpillar on display in the art galleries.  The galleries also feature the original works from dozens of famous authors and illustrators, but The Very Hungry Caterpillar is by far the most impressive piece in the collection.  It's only brought out for special occasions because of it's fragility, after all, it is made out of tissue paper.

Here is Heather's fancy instagram of Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  FYI-it was super cool up close!

We had a great time at the museum and would love to go back the next time Eric Carle is in town!