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Every year I’ve had the pleasure of asking the Carle Honor recipients a salient question about picture books, the medium in which they have made a profound impact.

That tradition continues, although the annual ceremony will be reimagined as a virtual benefit on Thursday, September 24, and this year’s Honorees will be commemorated at Carle’s 2021 in-person event.

For the Virtual Benefit, picture book art by some of publishing’s most esteemed artists will be auctioned off, with proceeds benefiting the museum. Bidding begins in mid-September and will culminate in a live two-piece auction during the virtual benefit.

Please support the museum and its mission here!

Sign up for the Virtual Event. It is absolutely free to attend, but you must register to get the link.

In 2020, given our extraordinary circumstances, I’ve asked this year’s distinguished honorees a question we all may need answering:

How do picture books provide a safe space for children and their families navigating through difficult times?

Every Child a Reader
Angel Honoree
Represented by Carl Lennertz, Executive Director

The biggest benefit of picture books comes if parent and child read together. During these times, being together versus alone in one’s room is a huge plus and discussing a book’s themes brings the additional benefit of conversation and soothing voices. And even if one reads quietly in one’s room, pictures and stories take us away to another time and place. Books are love.

Raúl Colón
Artist Honoree

Picture books take the readers to another world. Or at least through some sort of journey. Especially wordless picture books, which make the mind enjoy the trip a little more. Now the observers have to decipher what they see in front of them. Bring some sort of coherence to all the visuals that remain in a certain order in their eyes. Once they’re lost in that visual adventure, they leave the physical space they find themselves in, and fly away to another place—the difficult times left behind, if only for a moment. However, the lingering effects of a good story may last for hours—or even a lifetime.

Patricia Aldana
Mentor Honoree
Publisher, Aldana Libros

My father was born in Guatemala in 1907 into a professional, military family of some means. In 1910 they lost their mother. And in 1917 the year he turned ten Guatemala City was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake, leaving my father and his siblings with nowhere to live.  They were sent to stay with their grandmother, herself dependent on her son in law, in a small city in the east of Guatemala. Suddenly they had no money. My father, at twelve, had to go and work as a timekeeper on the railroad—a company then owned by the United Fruit Company which used the trains to bring their bananas to the port on the Gulf of Mexico. My father was very bright, but he had to leave school. By some miracle there was an outstanding library nearby. It had the great books of the Western Canon from Shakespeare, to Cervantes, to Racine, to Tolstoy to Dickens. By going and reading in this library every day after work my father succeeded in passing his bachillerato, his secondary degree. He then went to medical school, became a doctor, and a surgeon. He was one of the best-read people I have ever known. Eventually he became the Surgeon General of Guatemala and founder and first rector of the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala. I think it is correct to say that reading saved my father’s life.

Sad to say, there were no picture books in those days. Today’s children have a treasure trove of such books.

Around the world IBBY (the International Board on Books for Young People) has developed the practice of bringing wonderful books to children in crisis, reading aloud to them, and giving them books to read to themselves. Following earthquakes in Japan, Chile and Indonesia; with refugee children in countries ranging from Afghanistan to San Salvador to the US border, to Syrians in Lebanon, to refugee kids in Toronto, our experience has been that this practice of bibliotherapy has a hugely beneficial effect on children who may have faced death, displacement and loss. Many are able to talk for the first time about the trauma they have experienced. They sleep better. They play better. They can laugh again.

How could this not work with children stuck at home by Covid-19? After all this is a traumatic time, too. Setting aside a special reading time, separate from all other activities for an hour a day; reading aloud from really good picture books; talking about the books; drawing pictures, singing—letting the child lead the way. This should be time away from media, schoolwork, and should be completely free from any kind of didacticism.

There are several essential things to keep in mind. The first and most important: Let the child choose the books. Have a pile of great books, vary them, but let them choose. In our experience children in dire circumstances may want books that are funny, or about love, or that are sad. Let them talk, let them interrupt, but make it the most fun moment of the day. And even with older kids starting the special books time by reading aloud—as long as it’s a book the child has chosen, can help to engage them. And let them talk about the books. Reading saves lives.

Congratulations to the Honorees and thank you for sharing your wisdom!


The Carle Honors Honorees are selected each year by a committee chaired by children’s literature historian and critic Leonard S. Marcus, who was central to the founding of the Honors. The committee recognizes four distinct awards: Artist, for lifelong innovation in the field; Angel, whose generous resources are crucial to making illustrated children’s book art exhibitions, education programs, and related projects a reality; Mentor, editors, designers, and educators who champion the art form; and Bridge, individuals or organizations who have found inspired ways to bring the art of the picture book to larger audiences through work in other fields. This year’s Bridge Honorees are Dennis M. V. David and Justin G. Schiller, founders of Battledore Ltd.

Visit The Carle Museum online at carlemuseum.org.

In one month, The Carle Museum of Picture Book art will hold its annual Carle Honors, awarding four people/entities who have made significant contributions to the art form.

Also that evening, September 26th, final bids will be accepted on original artwork by picture book masters. Today, The Carle Honors are pleased to announce the artists whose work will be auctioned this year.

The auction will go live on Friday, August 30th and you can register to bid here.

For the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to ask the Carle Honorees a question about picture books. My question this year is…

“Picture books exude a certain kind of magic. How would you describe that magic?”

Melissa Sweet
2019 Carle Honors Artist

In a picture book, the magic begins as a swift and surprising connection to the art and design of a book, and later the words.

Often I dissect a book from cover to flaps to endpapers and everything in between, in order to figure out the decisions that make it compelling.

But in thinking about magic, I also think of magicians. One thing that makes a magic trick awe-inspiring is the set-up, which takes practice, timing and repetition, and drawing in the audience.

Then a myriad of decisions so that every word, every movement, points to witnessing something extraordinary.

Creating a picture book also requires minute decisions by a cast of dozens. The words, images, and design come together to create something wholly new.

Often there’s a moment when a book seems to have a mind of its own.  And when the final book feels effortless and like something we’ve never seen before, it seems…like magic.

 

REFORMA
The National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos & the Spanish Speaking
represented by Kenny Garcia, President
2019 Carle Honors Angel

‘Picture books allow readers to imagine a world or a future that the reader exists in and thrives. It opens up new possibilities, words, and worlds full of love, hope, expressions, and emotions that affirms the reader’s life. This magical spark empowers children to imagine and create a better world for themselves and their communities. Multicultural picture books can be such a transformative experience for all of us, but for children of color, the ability to see and read picture books by illustrators of color can nurture the idea that they can also have a future career in writing and illustrating books, and continue the magic for future generations.

 

Chihiro Art Museum 
represented by Takeshi Matsumoto
2019 Carle Honors Bridge

statement by Yuko Takesako          
Executive Director of the Chihiro Iwasaki Memorial Foundation
Chief Curator of the Chihiro Art Museum (Tokyo & Azumino)

When children open the cover of a children’s book, a special kind of magic bubbles up. It gives a glimpse of a world yet unseen, enables the reader to experience something never done before, or brings back a memory of an event long forgotten.

The magic of picture books especially has a great impact on children of different nationalities or languages, or on babies who still cannot read, or at times on children who are not so adept at communicating with others. The visual magic cast on a young child once he or she opens a picture book is so powerful that memories of the book may suddenly come alive when the book is placed firmly in their hands—once again after a forgotten period of 10, 30, or even 50 years.

In this fashion, the yearning, understanding, and sympathy found through experiencing a different world helps to create another sort of magic which is respect and love for people of different cultures and the world they live in.

Such is the magic that exudes from picture books—something all too precious and special.

 

David Saylor
VP, Creative Director, Trade Publishing

Publisher, Graphix
Scholastic Inc.
2019 Carle Honors Mentor

What I love most about picture books is how the words and artwork blend to create an enhanced and perfect entity: the book itself. Their heightened interaction is the alchemy that every picture book hopes to achieve, that moment where words spark a thought and the pictures expand the narrative spaces between and around the words and sentences. For that reason, my favorite picture books are fully alive with emotion and artistry.

I’ve often wondered why picture books that were read to me as a child have stayed so vivid in my memory. I don’t think it’s simply that my young mind was eager to discover the wider world. I think it may also be that hearing my mother and father read aloud to me was my first experience of artistic communication. Those moments—the warmth of a lap, the sounds of words, the lively pictures on the page—brought to life a moment where a writer and an artist spoke directly to me, to my innermost self. I felt suddenly more alive, more aware, more full of life than I had felt just a moment before.

There’s a beautiful scene in the play Wit, by Margaret Edson. The main character is Dr. Vivian Bearing, an English professor, dying from ovarian cancer.  Her mentor, an older professor, visits and tries to comfort her by reading aloud. Then her mentor does something extraordinary: she lays next to her in bed and reads a picture book that she had intended for her grandson. The books is Margaret Wise Brown’s The Runaway Bunny, and it’s one of the most beautiful and touching moments I’ve seen in any play. In her final moments of life, when Dr. Bearing’s ebbing life has been paired down to the elemental, only a picture book could express the right feeling with such simplicity and depth.

Thank you, Honorees, and congratulations!

Blog readers, I hope you’ll visit the Carle Honors Auction, attend the Honors gala, or donate to The Carle Museum for all they do to celebrate picture books. Just visit carlemuseum.org.

You can celebrate, too, if you’re the winner of Eric Carle’s THE ARTIST WHO PAINTED A BLUE HORSE. Simply share this blog post and comment that you’ve done so…and you’ll be entered into the random drawing to win a copy. A winner will be selected next week.

Good luck!

In one month, The Carle Museum of Picture Book art will hold its annual Carle Honors, awarding four people/entities who have made significant contributions to the art form.

Also that evening, September 27th, final bids are accepted on original artwork by picture book masters. The auction goes live on August 31, and you can browse and bid here: https://501auctions.com/carlehonors2018.

If you could ask the Carle Honorees one question, what might it be? My question is here—

“Why are picture books an art form to enjoy not only in childhood, but through every age, every stage of life?”

 

—and the answers are diverse and delightful, just like picture books themselves.

 

Paul O. Zelinsky
2018 Carle Honors Artist

“Why are pictures an art form to be enjoyed by people of all ages?  Well, that has to be a function of what picture books exist in the world to be enjoyed. Some, aimed at children in a pedantic and condescending way, are no fun at all for adults, and might be appreciated by only the most deluded or idiosyncratic child. But the world has come to contain an increasingly large number of picture books created by genuine artists, addressing the full extent of their humanity. These books may not look the same through the eyes of a four-year-old as they do to an adult of ninety-five (even putting aside questions of cataracts), but they somehow charm and enrich the thoughts and the vision of both.  Picture books can be appreciated by people of all ages because there are picture books that deserve this kind of appreciation. One of the best ways to prove this is to visit The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art!”

 

Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop
2018 Carle Honors Mentor 

“Picture books are indeed an art form, and enjoyment of art is not limited by age. With their unique combination of interdependent visual and verbal art, picture books speak to readers and viewers on a fundamental level. In addition to their aesthetic appeal, their thematic content often evokes universal emotions and experiences. Picture books also offer opportunities for older students to examine and learn about artistic styles, media, and technique. Picture book texts, in their conciseness, are often poetic, and can evoke the same kinds of responses as poetry. And because many literary genres come in picture book format, picture books can be a rich source of information as well as entertainment. Like other art forms, picture books are never outgrown.”

 

Dona Ann McAdams
(and Lynn Caponera),
representing The Sendak Fellowship & Workshop
2018 Carle Honors Angel

“I never assume a picture book is just for children. When a picture book works it marries images and words in a way few other mediums can. Each time we revisit an old beloved picture book we discover something new within its covers and new within ourselves.”

 

Elena Pasoli
The Bologna Children’s Book Fair
2018 Carle Honors Bridge

“The language of illustration is borderless not only in terms of cultural and geographical heritages, but more and more often also in terms of the age of the readers. Who could describe ‘The Arrival’ by Shaun Tan as simply a children’s book? This is the same for most of the wordless books which have been sharply growing in production and sales in the last few years all over the world. Illustrations speak clearly to everybody; they tell stories and leave people free of traveling across pages and thoughts; they are powerful and add emotions to the words; they can engage the readers’ memories as well as accompany them to discover new worlds.”

 

Andrea Davis Pinkney
Children’s Book Author, Editor &
2018 Carle Honors Presenter

“Come, little one. Climb onto my wings. Nestle, settle, celebrate. My feathered pages take you to places only the clouds can touch. Up, up! Here we go, soaring through words and pictures that fill you with my unforgettable flutter. Do you see the view from where my colors paint themselves into your quietest places, into the deep-down knowing that brings you comfort, giggles, wonder, discovery?

“Listen to my wisp of words spinning stories that will someday become your heart’s memories. Yes, child, I am a picture book. Our journeys—yours and mine, together—will last your whole life. This is what we picture books do—we lift you. We let you rise to skies filled with wonder. This, the awakening of your soul, starts from the day our wings hug your imagination. From there, we beckon you higher. Child, young or old, I am a picture book. No matter your age, stage, time or place, I give you the power to fly!”

 

Thank you, Honorees, The Carle Museum…and picture books!

What question would you ask the Honorees? Please tell us in the comments…

Tonight the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art will present the winners of its prestigious Carle Honors. One recipient is selected in each of four categories: Artist, Angel, Mentor and Bridge.

 

I asked the honorees to answer one important question about the state of our craft and business, and I hope to elicit more responses from attendees this evening.

Children’s literature has experienced a renaissance of sorts in the last few years (as if people are rediscovering an art form that never faded away). What in particular makes picture books more relevant today than ever before?


Ed Young, Artist

Shadows dancing on cave walls by the crackling fire pit where an oral story is told under a starry sky….

Fast forward to a lone finger sliding make believe pages on a tiny screen where words and pictures are viewed in silence in pre-ordered sequences.

Yes, progress indeed has been made in the secured comfort of a home where everything is convenient and predictable. But at what price? Meanwhile, the heart is lost.

I came to America to learn making shelters for physical people, unwittingly ending by creating sanctuaries for impoverished inner ones.

Paper picture books are tiny lights in an increasingly dark and dehumanizing world of robots. Institutions like the free libraries and Eric Carle Museum provide refuge to keep those lights alive and thriving.

They keep us connected.


Dr. John Y. Cole, Angel
Historian, Library of Congress

The versatile and vibrant picture book has become an increasingly important part of the basic fabric of the Library of Congress annual National Book Festival. Since the first festival on September 8, 2001, dozens of picture book authors and illustrators have spoken directly to audiences, young and old; Eric Carle himself was featured in 2002 in one of the two pavilions for children and young adults. In 2004 children’s illustrator Floyd Cooper designed the cover of the festival’s printed program, inaugurating a tradition of featuring a well-known artist each year. A “Picture Book” pavilion in 2014 highlighted 11 writers and illustrators; in 2015 the number climbed to 16. Roz Chast was the featured artist at the 2017 festival; another popular favorite was graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang, who also has served as the Library’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for the past two years.

 
Bank Street Writers Lab, Mentor
Represented by Dr. Cynthia Weill, Director of the Center for Children’s Literature

My sense is that there are several reasons for the rebirth of children’s books and their relevance in the world.

Parents have realized that a picture book cannot be replaced with an e-book device. Young children need and want tactile experiences. They want to feel the pages of a book. They want to carry them. Young children may gnaw on a board book. It isn’t quite the same experience with a tablet.

Secondly, publishers are becoming more attuned to diverse writers and the point of views and experiences they can share. This helps more children to see themselves in the pages of a book and ultimately to want to read.

Thirdly, parents and educators are also more aware that children must be exposed to someone else’s experiences to grow. There is more encouragement to read books outside of one’s own reality.

Finally, publishers are now able to offer more timely subject matter on issues such as refugees, protest and the environment. These books help parents and teachers help children make sense of the world at a time when it is very necessary.

The fourth honoree is Anthea Bell in the Bridge Category, for translating foreign children’s books into English. She will be represented at the Awards this evening by her son, Oliver Kamm.

To learn more about The Carle Honors, please visit The Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

Bid TODAY on original art to benefit the museum. Find treasures by Sandra Boynton, Mo Willems, Laurie Keller, Mike Curato and many more celebrated illustrators at 501auctions.com.

Bidding ends tonight at the awards but absentee bids are accepted via the 501auctions website!

 

carlehonors

Tonight the Eric Carle Museum will present four winners of its prestigious Carle Honors. I will be there to capture it all and report back to you, picture book devotees. In the meantime, I asked the honorees to answer one important question about the state of our craft and business:

Six years ago, The New York Times published an article about the demise of the picture book. Fast forward to this past January, and a picture book won the Newbery Medal. Plus, the current market has been heralded as “the golden age of picture books.”

Why have picture books defied the Times’ portent of doom–and why do they continue to remain a strong and important art form? Why are picture books more loved now than ever?

stevenheller“Is there any better medium for bringing together such varied artists and writers and stories and styles? The book has not died after 500 years and the picture book continues to be the most accessible of media. It’s not a fad. It’s not obsolete technology. It is an intimate tactile entity for making ideas come alive. As long as there is paper, what better way to use it?”
~Steven Heller, Bridge Honoree

allensay“A lot of American mothers today have become what the Japanese call “Education Mamas.” They want their offspring to start college at 12 and retire at 30, and book merchants are hell-bent on accommodating them. They have forgotten the Alice who asked for all children: “What is the use of a book without pictures or conversation?” Thanks to the conversation of Lewis Carroll and pictures by Sir John Tenniel, Alice is very much alive today. Would anybody remember Alice without Sir John?”
~Allen Say, Artist Honoree

jasonlow“The demise of picture books is connected to other mistaken predictions like the death of the print book when e-books came on the scene years ago. There is a general backlash against electronic books because of the amount of time people are spending on their phones, online, and binge-watching TV. People need a break from screen time. Also, the e-book experience, when compared to the tactile experience of a print picture book is not significantly better. The time spent reading an actual book is still a great past time that relies on the power of imagination, and the close relationship of words and pictures.”
~Jason Low, Angel Honoree

reginahayes“I never believed in the demise of the picture book! Picture books will always remain a vibrant art form. They are constantly evolving, constantly being reinvented as new authors and illustrator enter the field. Styles change; a new style surprises and delights, then there are imitators, and eventually something different will turn it all around again. I’ve seen a style dismissed as outdated, then a few years go by and it is fashionable again, maybe even considered classic.

“The rise of e-books have, ironically, made publishers and the public more aware of the importance of the book as a physical object, an object that should be beautiful. I notice more and more care being lavished on paper and binding and innovative jacket treatments.

“I don’t think children should ever be urged to give up picture books when they are ready for chapter books. In my experience, children constantly go back and forth. They return to old favorite picture books even when they reach double digits, perhaps because the books provide a feeling of security, of coming home, perhaps recapturing the warmth and closeness of being read to by a beloved adult. And for that, a real book is essential!”
~Regina Hayes, Mentor Honoree

ericcarlemuseum

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Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Honorees, and congratulations on being recognized.

To learn more about the Carle Honors and this year’s Honorees, please visit The Carle Honors website where you can also bid on the charity art auction.

Follow me on Twitter @taralazar, as I will try to live tweet from the event. A recap of the evening will be published here later this week.

 

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COMING SOON:

BLOOP!
illus by Mike Boldt
HarperCollins
July 2021

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illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks eXplore
November 2021

"PRIVATE I" SERIES #3
illus by Ross MacDonald
Little, Brown
2022

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