Friday, June 18, 2021

Goodbye to 2 Giants in Picture Books

Recently, I was sorry to learn of the deaths of 2 beloved picture book author/illustrators. They died within a couple of days of each other: Eric Carle (see some of his books above)

and Lois Ehlert (see some of her books above)

Their books have been part of PBT since the beginning (2014). Check out the PBT links at the end of this post to 8 or so treasured books and their applications!

What was striking to me was the similarity of their work. Both artists were innovative in how they structured some of their books, inserting mechanisms (Carle), using foldouts and cutouts (Ehlert). Both used bold collage and both celebrated nature: Carle’s characters were mostly from the animal kingdom. Ehlert’s books were about plants, animals, and humans. Both wrote simply and empathically to young children, but their books were full of loving wisdom that could be meaningful at any age.

One of my bucket list items is to go to The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. I hope some of you will check it out when you are in or near Amhurst, MA, USA. Here’s the website: you have been already, tell us about it via a comment below.

Before you click on the PBT links below, here is 1 more from each author.

Picture Book: The Very Clumsy Click Beetle

Author & Illustrator: Eric Carle

Summary: A young and inexperienced click beetle jumps from a tree and lands on his back, legs up. Fortunately, wise old click beetle comes along and begins teaching the young bug how to “click and flip through the air and land on your feet.” Young click beetle is not successful at first, but patient teaching continues. Meanwhile, other creatures pass by and encourage the trials. When a human boy approaches, the little click beetle is so afraid that he is finally and dramatically successful! The wise old click beetle watches and affirms.   

Hanna’s Comments: This is a great story about growing up and learning to do new and hard things. Such stories are what children live continually so they will relate! The young beetle’s struggles easily connect to the inconsistent growth of spiritual formation. For a child that might translate to relying on God while afraid or becoming more disciplined in faith habits. An obvious connection to the Bible for me was how Jesus consistently taught the disciples, despite their not seeming to get his teachings until after the resurrection. Another connection is the mentor/mentee relationship of Elijah and Elisha: 2 biblical heroes that children need to know, especially children who share their names.

Original Publisher & Date: Philomel Books, 1999

Age Appropriateness: Preschool & up

Formats other than Book: Audio

Note: Some books come with a mechanism that makes a clicking sound.

Scripture Connections: Elijah mentors Elisha (2nd Kings); any scripture in which Jesus is teaching his disciples (i.e. Mark 9:14-29)

PBT Applications: Teach connections to this book by having your children learn and do a novel but doable activity, like playing with Tidily Winks, shooting marbles, or going through a challenging obstacle course. Then talk about the importance of striving through difficult lessons.

Picture Book: Hands: Growing Up to Be an Artist

Author & Illustrator: Lois Ehlert

Summary: From the point of view of a child with artistic parents, this book is visually striking. Carpentry (father), various handiworks (mother), and gardening (whole family) are covered here in some nice detail. The illustrations include tools and results of difficult work. The parents include the child in their work. “Extra hands” are needed, they say. They even create a work space for the child so that the child recognizes the importance of work for busy hands.

Hanna’s Comments: This is a fabulous book that few people know! One aspect of this story that I really like is the mystery of the child’s gender. That means all of your children will be able to relate without stereotypical gender boundaries. The range of work for hands is a nice plus and the structure is so colorful and unusual. There are lots of unusual cutouts!

Original Publisher & Date: Harcourt, 1997

Age Appropriateness: Preschool & up

Formats other than Book: none

Scripture Connections: Any scriptures about work, art, tender touching, or busy hands during worship (in praise or via music); For we are what God has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works... (Ephesian 2:10)

Connections to The Revised Common Lectionary: In my Trinity Treasures curriculum, I recommend this book for a lesson based on the Ephesians scripture above (RCL: Year B, Lent 4). The theme of the lesson is Created for Good Work.

PBT Applications: There are many ways to talk about hands in a religious  context. Hands love in many ways. They do good work, give comfort, show tenderness, and are part of The Body of Christ. All are important life applications for a child of faith. 

Links to other Eric Carle’s PBT Books:

The Tiny Seed

Panda Bear, Panda Bear: What Do You See? and 1 more

A House for Hermit Crab

The Very Lonely Firefly

Links to other Lois Ehlert’s PBT Books:

Planting a Rainbow

Waiting for Wings

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf 

Rain Fish and Leaf Man

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