The world lost two beloved artists in the last days of this past May. Eric Carle, of The Very Hungry Caterpillar fame, passed away on May 23 at his home in Massachusetts at the age of 91. Carle was born in New York but spent many of his formative years in war-torn Germany. After finishing art school in Germany, Carle returned to the U.S. and took a job as a graphic designer for the New York Times. He was drafted in the Korean War and stationed as a mail clerk in Germany, after which he returned to the U.S. and continued on with the Times. His first children’s book was a collaboration with author Bill Martin Jr. titled Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? This kickstarted his career as an author and illustrator, beloved by children and adults everywhere for his charming stories and unique, colorful collage artwork. In addition to his huge contribution to the world of children’s books, Carle was the founder of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, which was designed by the architecture firm of another children’s book author, Norton Juster. For those curious about his other works, Pancakes, with its bright illustrations, is a fun read and always makes me hungry.
Bill Martin Jr. also worked with author/illustrator Lois Ehlert, who created the memorable images for his and John Archambault’s book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Ehlert was born in Wisconsin in 1934 and attended the Layton School of Art. Beginning with Growing Vegetable Soup in 1987, Ehlert authored and/or illustrated nearly 50 books. Both Ehlert and Carle used collage techniques, which gave their artwork a distinctive, memorable flair that has enchanted readers for decades. Ehlert passed away on May 25 in Wisconsin at the age of 86. Both authors entertained and inspired generations of children, and we should honor their memory by continuing to read and pass on their beautiful works.