Posted by: jeannineatkins | July 3, 2011

July! Jama! At the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

Swimming and picnic fare with friends is planned for Monday, but my weekend struck an epitome of celebration yesterday when Jama   and her husband took a break from visiting relatives to meet me and Peter at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.  Little is more exciting than meeting in person someone you’ve come to know and adore on their blog. Jama is as sweet and funny as you’d guess from Alphabet Soup.

We saw the Tomi Ungerer exhibit  with lots of art from the Mellops, a pig family, and Jama was won over by the mother carrying a cake almost as tall as she was. There was also a bat chasing a moth with a net, crocodiles, boa constrictors, a flying kangaroo, and an octopus playing checkers and the piano. Most were drawn with delicate but assured lines, which I preferred to some of the bolder Ungerer pictures I’ve seen reprinted: of course these do look better reproduced small, and that’s why I, too, chose to put one here. Ungerer says, “If my books teach children anything, it’s to make fun of adults, especially those who are taking themselves too seriously.” Here’s a recent New York Times interview.

He is a friend of Maurice Sendak, who I learned was also was an early encourager of Barbara McClintock, whose work often shares his fascination with stage design. One gallery featured art from what I believe was Barbara McClintock’s first book, Heartaches of a French Cat (David Godine, 1989) which someone told me took about eight years to write and draw. Certainly her labor shows in the elegant detail. She was inspired by a Balzac play to come home and create an 87 page sketchbook from memory, and the show displays the gesture drawings and photocopies she made to experiment with different color schemes. I love the sense of place and history in all her work, and how she credits some of this to growing up near grandparents who lived in an old Victorian house, which included her grandmother’s special collection of woman writers. Sigh of happiness. I hope that collection was passed down to her.

The third gallery was the one devoted to Eric Carle, which included artifacts going back to early childhood drawing and examples of the design work he did as a young man. We saw the cover of A Week with Willi Worm. Astute editor Ann Beneduce asked him to change the protagonist to a caterpillar, which became the Hungry, Hungry one we know, and offered the ending with a butterfly. There were also pages from other works, a display case with tools and examples of linoleum block prints, and a very green costume designed for a 2001 production of The Magic Flute.

After leaving the museum, Jama, our husbands, and I ate fat sandwiches and daintier carrot cupcakes at Barstow’s Longview Farm talking about life, writing, and hoping to set the ears burning of bloggers including Sara Lewis Holmes, Kelly  [info]kellyrfinemanJo [info]jbknowles and Jules of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast  as we marveled at their energy, wisdom, and kindness, while we enjoyed cool drinks, a warm breeze, and a view of the Holyoke Range, slow-shuffling cows, and Cornelius.

Now I’m drinking the delicious macadamia-cocontut tea Jama brought me via Hawaii, but already missing her smile. And hearing rain and thunder. That beautiful lake with wonderful friends may have to wait for another year, but my weekend feels pretty great. 



  1. JAMA! I was so happy to see both your faces here and to read about your field trip (!) that I came running, and now I even see my name, which is awfully kind of you all. So glad you got to meet, and boy HOWDY do I want to visit that museum. In fact, I wish I worked there. I’d sweep the floors. I would.
    Those exhibits sound so wonderful. I mean, really. Wow. I have a friend heading there now-ish, and now I know what goodnesses are in store for her.

  2. That is so great!

  3. Ah, you luckies!
    The Heartaches of a French Cat looks mighty appealing.

  4. Ah, your comment came up, Jules. Sometimes with LJ, especially these days, you just have to wait a little while. I did laugh as you didn’t sign it, but, um, I don’t know anyone else who says boy HOWDY, can you believe that?
    Yes, it’s a good time to visit, and in the parking lot I saw plates from all around, including Alaska. So lucky it’s a 30 min. drive away. You will have to visit when your book comes out and I hope that coincides with the upcoming Bemelmans exhibit or one with Garth Williams drawings or … well, one day I hope to meet you there.

  5. Happy happy day.

  6. Barbara McClintock’s work is so intricate. I think my favorite book of hers is The Fantastic Drawings of Danielle, but I realized looking at her website I wanted to pick up her illustrated A Child’s Garden of Verse, if they had it. The galleries have books available to look through, and this was charming, with some of my favorite poems for children. I was so excited to see Jama I actually passed by the shop.

  7. Oh wow. The museum sounds amazing, and what a wonderful day out to share with a friend!

  8. Lovely, thanks. And I hope you’re still feeling the glow of great news.

  9. That exhibit looks amazing, but the best part was no doubt sharing an afternoon’s companionship with each another. How lovely. Happy sighs…I wish I could have joined you. 🙂

  10. Melodye, having a real lunch with first you, then Jama, have made this a very special year. Of course I wish you could have been there, too!

  11. Becky, yes on the Internet magic. I’m still dreaming of lunch or something with you. After all, we do have a daughter on your coast…

  12. Another cheer for internet magic! So lovely to see the two of you together, Jeannine. I can almost feel the glow from here.
    (And macadamia-coconut tea …. heavens, I never knew such a thing existed. Trust Jama to know — and to bring it!)

  13. What fun to see Jama who bequeathed me a glow that is remaining. Along with that tea, which is delicious iced.
    And yay for internet magic for keeping us all together across the miles.

  14. I didn’t realize there was a Tomi Ungerer show at the Eric Carle, thanks for the tip! I adore him, I’ll have to go check it out. Haven’t been to that museum in too long.
    Welcome to the happy valley Jama!

  15. It’s going to happen. :)If you guys ever head up the coast to Pismo Beach (where Bugs Bunny meant to go), my parents are 5 minutes away–I could so easily intercept your path! And I know it’s a long shot, but I’m going to send off a proposal for NESCBWI…you never know!

  16. For all the ways the internet has eroded our society, this is an example of the power it has to break those geographic barriers and bring like-minded people together! What a wonderful experience to share!

  17. Irene, you are so right. I love reading Jama’s smart blog and cheerful comments, and it added an extra layer to meet her in person. Now when I see the little icon of her I smile even more having seen that pretty head full-sized! I know I’ll meet you one day, too, and so look forward to that! Meanwhile, yes, yay for the internet! And books!

  18. Anna, you will love the show and I believe some long out of print books in the US are now available, too. And if you want somebody to hold the baby while you browse, please let me know. Not that everybody wouldn’t be lining up, but I’m getting in my raised hand.
    Next time Jama comes through we’re going to have to hold her hostage longer so we all can show her our love!

  19. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is on my ‘Must Do’ list. I really need to get that on the calendar.

  20. Becky, here’s to perhaps meeting on both coasts! Good luck with that proposal!

  21. Yes, you MUST go the Carle! I’d love to meet you there!

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