Tomorrow we'll visit the Eric Carle Museum of Picturebook Art. Although I'm not the children's literature guru I once was, my heart still speeds up a little bit when I see that perfect marriage of creative media, expression and accessibility that is illustration. Eric Carle, for those of you who never went to kindergarten, is the author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and many many more picturebooks for children.
I once hosted an event with Eric Carle when I was in the book industry. It felt like a god was walking in our midst. It was like meeting Michael Jackson. I tried to be cool around this legend who has been producing international bestsellers for my entire lifetime - I tried to keep my mouth shut as much as I could. So instead I just stood there........with a big toothy grin.
I wanted him to sign one of my books but I was having trouble finding the opportunity. The evening was going on too long and he was getting tired. And the hundreds of rabid first grade teachers standing in line to get their books signed were showing their fangs. No one stands between a first grade teacher and Eric Carle! So when he got up for a break, I followed him, thinking I could catch him before he came back to the crowd. But he walked to the bathroom; I followed him to the bathroom! Which I didn't intend to do! I stopped a little too close to the bathroom door and pretended to study a blank piece of paper...........
And I could hear him peeing. And I thought to myself, "I'm listening to Eric Carle pee." What if you stood outside a door listening to Michael Jackson pee? That would be weird, right? But I was in too far - so I quickly came up with a plan. I heard the zipper, the water running, the paper towel holder and finally the doorknob. I took a few steps to the right and pretended that I was walking by just as he emerged. Ooops! Oh excuse me! Can I walk you back out to the store? Oh - can you quickly sign my book?