Editor's note: For Nov. 14 publication


“On Saturday, he ate through one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one slice of watermelon, but he was still hungry.”

Editor's note: For Nov. 14 publication

No, we’re not talking about that soon-to-be butterfly, but the Western Massachusetts-based artist behind The Very Hungry Caterpillar and more than 70 other books, Eric Carle. It was 1995, when the acclaimed children’s book author and his wife, Barbara, got hungry to open up a small studio to showcase his work. Well, my friends, fairy tales do come true.

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art developed in Amherst, Mass., on a far grander scale than even Carle could have imagined.

Like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, the hero of this story is once again a prince — the honorable Gregory Prince, Jr., President of Hampshire College. Upon hearing about his neighbor’s desire, Prince granted the Carles their one wish and donated a 7.5-acre apple orchard on university grounds to build their museum. With far more than a few of Carle’s drawings on the walls, the 44,000-square-foot museum today houses the largest collection of children’s book illustrations in America.

“Similar to the way picture books are an introduction to literature for the very young reader, we wanted to build a museum that would introduce children to the experience of looking at art,” Carle said.

The Central Gallery is devoted to the works of Carle and is rotated regularly to display his inexhaustible supply of illustrations. The West gallery features the works of highly regarded children’s book authors. The current exhibition on The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony Diterlizzi will be on display through January 27.

The museum also boasts an art studio so all child visitors can have their own creative experience. And there’s also a reading library with more than 2,000 picture books – and cozy couches and chairs to give the comfort of a living room if overstimulated kids need to decompress. Or, in Carle vernacular, parents can transform The Grouchy Ladybug into The Very Quiet Cricket.

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is open every day but Monday. Admission is $7 adults, $5 for children. For hours and directions, visit www.picturebookart.org.