I've changed my mind about Eric Carle's work. Having a child changes a lot of the lofty ideals you held before you had children. This is a case where the books didn't initially grab my attention, but they appealed to my child so I was sold.
In fact, at just two months old Emeline ate up Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?
Here are two of the three Eric Carle books that receive my Q Seal of Approval!
These are only theories, but I think there are two key elements that cause these books to be a hit for the little ones. Firstly, the text is short and so the reader is always flipping pages--no reason for the listener to become bored. These pages are from Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?
Secondly, Carl's illustrations are full of contrast which are interesting and stimulating for little eyes. Most pages have a white background with bright bold animals:
Here are some from Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?
Switching it up for the white dog:
Uh...does that kid have a mullet?
Every time I read this book, I feel sorry for him.
My third Eric Carl pick is his ABC book:
This one shares the same elements as Polar Bear and Brown Bear
with some added movement:
I can't help but sing the alphabet at the end.
Nerdy side note: of these three Carle published Brown Bear in 1967 and Polar Bear in 1991. In 2003, he published Panda Bear, Panda Bear What Do You See? a riff of the previous two with one distinct difference:
Pick up on it yet?
The minor tweak to the background, believe it or not, does make a difference. Emeline is less interested in this one. And since this page weirds me out...
I'm less likely to pick it up.
The next time you are shopping for a gift, scouring garage sales or used book stores, or checking out books at your local library, I think Polar Bear, Brown Bear, and Carle's ABC's are great selections. Admittedly, the more time I spend with these three for Emeline's benefit, the more I appreciate the way he uses paint and scissors. His technique and the finished product are really quite cool.