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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.

 

As a children's book author and mother of two, I'm pushing a stroller along the path to publication. I collect shiny doodads on the journey and share them here. You've found a kidlit treasure box.

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