I just posted this remembrance in honor of Eric Carle in the guestbook on his site and wanted to share it here, too. May he rest in peace, and in joy and beauty, too.
I have so many good memories of Eric and Bobbie from my years working at The Carle, most of which are rooted in the great generosity they both embodied. That generosity was manifested in the very creation of the museum, intended to showcase not just his art but others’, and to be the Carles’ way of “giving back”; but I also mean that they were generous of spirit.
I saw Eric’s giving nature on display in 2001 when I led one of my very first storytimes at The Carle’s information office in Northampton while the museum was still under construction. When I was part-way through reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Eric came downstairs from his studio and sat at a desk behind the group of children and caregivers who’d gathered for storytime. I remember being nervous when I saw him, but I tried to play it cool and let myself get caught up in the children’s responses to the book as we talked about colors and shapes, layout and endpapers. Afterward, Eric came up to me and introduced himself.
“That was wonderful!” he said. “I can’t do what you do for the children,” he said.
I was taken aback. “Well, thank you, Eric Carle!” I said. “I can’t do what YOU do for the children.”
He laughed. “I’ll make the books and you read them, OK?” he said.
“OK!” I said.
It was shortly thereafter that Founding Director Nick Clark gave me the chance to lead weekly storytimes at the information office, an opportunity that led to over a decade of immensely rewarding work in the Reading Library at The Carle. Was that early storytime experience with Eric an audition of sorts? Maybe, and if it was, I’m glad I didn’t know it at the time because I’m sure my nerves would’ve gotten the best of me. I wanted so much to be a part of the beautiful museum he was creating, and I was just one of many educators, artists, writers, and others who benefitted from the generosity of spirit that led Bobbie and him to give us opportunities to give of ourselves. I’m forever grateful for my time at The Carle, and I send love and wishes for comfort and peace to Eric and Bobbie’s family and loved ones.