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Eric Carle's latest story consists of just 50 words, 10 animal paintings and two pictures of the young artist at work. Simply, a child creates a series of vibrant paintings of animals in unusual, striking colours, including a blue horse, a green lion and a multi-coloured, polka-dotted donkey. My own favourite is the purple fox. The child says, I am a good artist.
The one page explanatory note at the back of the book, for older readers, uses far more words than the main story to tell a tale of Franz Marc and Eric Carle, making it clear that this is a book with an important message, that what matters is colour and creativity.
Franz Marc was an early 20th century German artist who whose unconventional paintings in non-realistic colours were controversial but inspired others, and he was particularly famous for his blue horses. He died in World War I. Later, he was one of a number of painters banned by the Nazis.
Eric Carle, born in 1929, grew up in Nazi Germany. His art teacher noticed his unusual ideas and secretly showed him some forbidden art while explaining that he was only allowed to teach strictly realistic drawing and painting.
My children, who will be 3 and 5 on their next birthdays, are big fans of Eric Carle's work. I think this book may take longer to catch on with them than favourites like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but it is a lovely book to look at and talk about with them, and you can vary yoru approach for children of different ages. Also, this is one in which I personally really enjoyed the illustrations. You can also use it to inspire children's own drawing and painting activities, and I think this book would be useful with young primary school children.
This review first appeared at www.thebookbag.co.uk