Inspiration from Eric Carle and Mr Rogers

What's your favourite Eric Carle book?

In case you don't know, Eric Carle was an American author, designer and illustrator of children's books. His picture book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which was first published in 1969, has been translated into more than 66 languages and sold more than 50 million copies. 

I have a few favourites, don't you? I think Eric Carle's instantly recognisable illustrations are appealing to both children and adults. With more than 70 books to choose from, I think everyone must have at least one favourite.

The books I love the best and have enjoyed sharing with children over the years are - 'The Very Lonely Firefly', especially with the magical last page! 'Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?', 'The Very Busy Spider', and of course the 'Very Hungry Caterpillar'.

When Eric died in 2021 there were many lovely obituaries and articles written about him and his work. When reading through these I came across this charming video from the Mr Rogers' Neighbourhood TV series. Mr Rogers visits Eric Carle's studio. In the video they make some papers together which are used to create the collage illustrations in Eric's books. I loved watching how Eric makes the papers he uses which make his books so recognisable. Eric reads one of his books to Mr Rogers. I loved the video and wanted to share it with you. I hope you enjoy it too. 

Watch the video here

An Eric Carle children's book is very easy to recognise because of the distinctive collage Eric used to create the illustrations. I hadn't appreciated that Eric himself had created each textured and beautifully coloured piece of paper used to create the collage. 

I recently 'made papers' with the children I work with. I was inspired by Sophie Noix (@goldnuss) who shares charming projects on Instagram. 

Sophie and her children created colourful and textured papers similar to those crafted by Eric Carle. The silhouettes of birds were cut from the papers by Sophie and her children. Then they were stuck on a window to create a charming display which brought joy into their living space.

We made a similar display and discovered that it made fabulous shadows which danced throughout the day with the suns movement. 

See our birds here

When I saw Sophies birds on Instagram I was reminded of the Eric Carle and Mr Rogers YouTube video. The birds the children made sitting on a wire reminded me of the old English nursery rhyme of Two Little Dickie Birds, which was first recorded in Mother Goose's Melody, a collection of stories and songs, in London in 1765. 

I have been dabbling with creating nursery rhyme kamishibai off and on. I may end up with the makings of a kind of song book/nursery rhyme kamishibai. In another blog post I wrote I talked about the decline of singing and nursery rhymes in early years settings. In the nursery setting I most recently worked in there was no singing until I introduced it. One of the parents said she would miss her child coming home singing new songs I had taught her when she left us to start school. 

I thoroughly enjoyed experimenting with watercolours to create my latest nursery rhyme kamishibai. Two Little Dickie Birds is an old favourite of mine. It's great to use with groups of children in nursery or school. You can use the children's names instead of the classic Peter and Paul. Doing this at home is great fun too and makes the children think of whose names to use next, grannies and grandads, aunts, uncles and cousins too. It's really a finger rhyme but you could also use mini me's if you use them in your nursery or classroom. 

See my Two Little Dickie Birds Kamishibai here. 


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