Massachusetts

The next morning, I was delighted to watch snow fall while eating breakfast. The locals seemed less enthusiastic. By lunch, the snow had become much heavier as did the local mood.

One of the first impressions I had of the Eric Carle Museum was that it presents as a destination. The fact that the building was designed and purpose built on a beautiful site undoubtedly helps create that impact, but in this case, it all comes together and succeeds very handsomely. I could not wait to get indoors, and not just because of the icicles forming on the end of my nose. As I entered, the space opened upwards and the view was along the length of the building. The gallery spaces full of original illustrations lead off to the left and the well stocked bookshop is on the right. Net to this was the art room where I was to spend the next couple of happy hours.

It was such a pleasure to work in a space as lovely as this, with large windows looking over an apple orchard which was still being dusted by new snow. I was pretty excited about the snow but the locals plainly viewed this reprise of winter weather the way you feel when you can’t quite shake a cold… Therefore, I was very happy that the effort had been made to come along to the event, and the turnout was wonderful. We set to with a plentiful array of crayons, pencils and paint, and for the umpteenth time I experienced that noise that is both busy and quiet, children drawing.

I am always pleased to see how many adults share their passion for children’s books. It pleased me no end when Sussanah Richards (Sussing out books) Professor of Education at Eastern Connecticut State University showed her support by dropping in. I would have loved more time to speak with her, but I suspect there is ever enough time with all her energy.

The one thing I saw over and over on this trip was parents bringing their children along for the express purpose of engaging them in picture books and in art and language. It is a very heartening thing to be part of, and that the Eric Carle Museum supports the artform of picture books and its rich history with style and generosity.

I even scored a signed copy.

My first introduction to the Eric Carle Museum was courtesy of Dr Belle Alderman of the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature. I understand that Belle is, as always, investigating ways to promote Australian Children’s Literature and for mine, we need such museums as the Eric Carle and Mazza in Australia.

I was a late comer to social media. As a card carrying Luddite, I have a natural suspicion towards any form of technology. However, I admit to a slight conversion. I am someone who needs my own private space when working, but equally it has been enjoyable to get out of the studio and chat occasionally even if it is in a cyberspace kind of way.

On the morning before we left the Amherst area, I posted a diary sketch of the nearby town of Northampton.

Before I knew it, I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting author, Stephanie Greene a FB friend who lives there. A couple of mugs of coffee later and I soon realized this was another of those conversations which could have gone on for days. You know that you are having fun when Americans turn around to see who the loud Australian is. Not for the first time, I was struck by the generosity of those working in the children’s book industry. There is no doubt that times are tough, but rather than hide their knowledge, they freely share a wealth of experience and so it was with Stephanie. Book marketing was discussed; I only added this to show it wasn’t all fun.