Eric Carle's lasting fantasy and wonder

Most of his letters – the ones I didn’t lose in the chaos of my cluttered home – were sent to me from the Florida Keys, where he lived “f...

Most of his letters – the ones I didn’t lose in the chaos of my cluttered home – were sent to me from the Florida Keys, where he lived “for the most part,” he said, of his last years on Tavernier Island. He had previously lived for over 30 years in Northampton, Massachusetts, but only returned, it seems, intermittently.

His health, he told me in 2015, had seriously deteriorated the year before. “I spent six weeks in the hospital,” he wrote – “stroke, heart, lung and kidney” – and I was “almost dead”. But he continued to write lively and funny letters, some of them surprisingly irreverent and political. “As far as our dear leader is concerned,” he said of Donald Trump, “his grandfather should have stayed in Germany. He asked me, “Did you know that the guy from Heinz tomato sauce” (in fact, the father of this “guy”) “came from the same village at about the same time” as our family. dear boss? His letters were full of weird little detours like this one which he found intriguing.

And he continued to send photos. One was that of a reindeer whose antlers were growing flowers. Others were abstractions. One was just a swirl of red and purple lines that looked like wiggling creatures against a yellow speckled background. Another consisted of vertical and horizontal lines that seemed to challenge each other.

In the winter of 2018, he told me, “I just bought a red car yesterday. He said he couldn’t “guess all the new gadgets” on the dashboard, but he appeared to be rambunctious (hope that’s not disrespectful), like a very young boy who had received a new one. toy. “After cataract surgery,” he wrote, “my eyes are good,” so he was free to drive around. Yet, he noted, “Nature eats away at us. He had lost his wife to cancer more than two years ago. “I miss her,” he wrote, “every day and every hour.”

When his own death at the age of 91 was reported in the press, many of my readers, old friends and teachers of young children sent me thoughtful emails, because I had often spoken of the importance of his work for me. It was a teacher in a first grade class in the early 1980s who introduced me, and managed to get me hooked, to one of Eric Carle’s first books that she loved. My memory is hazy, but I think the book she showed me was probably “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”. I quickly discovered others through him in the classes I visited. There was a book about a “Little Cloud” that wanders off and transforms into different shapes: a soft white sheep, a puffy bunny with long ears. There was a book about a lonely mouse – “Do you want to be my friend?” And, of course, there was the endearing “Grouchy Lady Bug” with big black dots against its red shell. And one book led me to the next.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Eric Carle's lasting fantasy and wonder
Eric Carle's lasting fantasy and wonder
Newsrust - US Top News
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