I'm going to be honest with you, I remember hating the work of Eric Carle when I was little. He illustrated Aileen Fisher's Do Bears Have Mother's Too? I couldn't read yet so I just looked at the pictures. It was all orange and brown and speckled. I hated the texture and the colors. I still have this book and still, it's a turn off. I know this sounds like blasphemy because he's so wildly popular, but I guess the Caldecott people agree with me because Eric Carle has never won a Caldecott Medal. Now I feel bad. He probably deserves a Caldecott. Do the Caldecott judges look down on his collage technique? They're probably thinking, "I could do that." That's what I think. Apparently Do Bear Have Mothers Too is out of print. Make me an offer?
The book I remember LOVING was Sylvester and The Magic Pebble by William Steig. Even before I could read the charming prose I liked the pictures.
Steig's stories are so quirky and eloquent. I can think of no more beautiful ode to true friendship than Amos and Boris: "We will be friends forever, but we can't be together. You must live on land and I must live at sea. I'll never forget you, though." Kind of makes The Napping House seem a little irrelevant (plus that old lady in her nightgown--gaaah).
I got A Caldecott Celebration: 7 Artists and Their Paths to the Caldecott Medal by Leonard Marcus at the library. It's very interesting. (Don't get me started about Maurice Sendak--he's SO interesting. Listen to this--especially the part about killing a child when he was 6.) I was pleased to find Steig as likable and quirky as his books. Of donkeys (like Sylvester) he says, "Donkeys are my favorite animal. For some reason every time I see a donkey I get pleasure from it. They're charming animals. They're like horses, but smaller. They're not overwhelming like horses. They seem lovable--though I never had a donkey. And they work hard. I like working people better than I like idlers, too." Horses overwhelm him. I can see that. Donkeys are much less intimidating to me, too. Like if I'm still in my pajamas with ugly hair I would be all, "Hey donkey." Whereas horses can be a little judgy.
In a brief note to his editor after getting the go-ahead for Sylvester he declared, "I will learn to draw donkeys. Probably they should stand like donkeys." This is definitely a guy I could hang out with. Jan Brett? Not so much.I hate this Gingerbread boy. I wish he would turn into a stone and never be reunited with his family. EVER! (She's never won the Caldecott Medal either, I'm just saying).