A Case for Classes at the Carle

Warning: This is an advertisement. Or perhaps it's more of an endorsement. One of the coolest things children's literature students at Simmons can do is attend classes that are held at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA. Currently, I am enrolled in one such class--Children's Book Publishing--taught by Vicky Smith. We meet for the last weekend of every month, mostly in the windowless conference room, but the change of setting is refreshing. (And the lack of windows really isn't that bad.)

Taking a class with students who aren't Boston-based is enlightening because they bring a different perspective. The cultural climate around the area reminds me so much of Bellingham, Washington (where I went to undergrad) so I feel right at home. So many of the students are writers in the dual degree track--at least in the case of this particular Carle class. For a would-be librarian like me, being surrounded by so many aspiring writers is just the coolest. I could shelve their books someday. Isn't that wild?

The class is also good for librarians because it gives us insight into a different part of the industry. I know that there is a similar publishing course in the library science catalog, but this one seems more focalized on children's literature. Nonetheless, I'll never forget that first day of class when we cut the covers off books (sacrilegious, I know) to see how they were bound. In that moment, I almost wanted to leave Simmons for a book arts program. But I think I'd rather work directly with the patrons and just admire the artistry.

There are plenty of other reasons to go to the Carle. Our enrollment in the class gives us a free membership to the museum. Since we're mostly in class when the museum is closed to the public, there's still time to play around when it opens. However, apparently Eric Carle himself was there just the other day while we were in class and we missed it. But, luckily, I did get to see Dr. Seuss' hat collection while I was in Northampton. What a guy.

Side note: If you're ever in doubt of where to go for lunch, try the Atkins Farm. You won't regret it. That said, I'm still hoping to finally try one of the museum's caterpillar cookie one of these days. Hopefully I won't regret that...

Children's Literature


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