Posts Tagged With: Eric Carle

Tuesday Theater: Very Hungry Caterpillar @ Lincoln’s Lied Center

Today our homeschool co-op played hookey.  Well, sort of.  Instead of meeting at our normal venue, we went down and joined a few hundred other school children at the Lied Center in Lincoln to watch the performance of the Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Caterpillar 1

I really was not sure what to expect.  How could a book of such incredible visual quality turn into an entertaining play?  Just as the caterpillar transforms into the beautiful butterfly, the “actors”managed to transform a simple set into a masterpiece for children.

Caterpillar 2

Our seats were in the balcony, so at first I was convinced that the set was a projection.  In fact, I thought that for the whole first section.  Another pleasant surprise?  The fact that there were actually three stories performed, starting with The Little Cloud.

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This play was primarily “flat,” but the little cloud images were so cute.  All of the kids around me were shouting out the new shapes of the cloud.  That was one thing I appreciate from the beginning – they made clear that this is not a “shushing” show.  Audience participation was welcomed and encouraged.

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Next they performed The Mixed-Up Chameleon.  At this point, the little animal became dimensional and was so cute.  I was wishing I knew just how they changed the colors.  More than on chameleon?  All of the zoo animal boards were so vibrantly colorful, matching Carle’s original artwork.

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They save d the most well-known story until last.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar just happens to be celebrating its 45th birthday.  And the Mermaid Theatre Company who put on the production just happens to be ready to perform the play for its 2,000,000th audience member this spring as well!  I was impressed that the whole show was put on by two puppeteers as well as one assisting stage manager.  I wish I could have taken a video of the all of the children laughing in the audience as they thoroughly enjoyed the show – a beautiful sound!

Caterpillar 3

At the end, the two performers came out and told some of their tricks on how the performance was accomplished.  Including showing the three caterpillars that were used as the little guy became “bigger” because of his snacking.  Glow as vibrantly as Carle’s books, the set seemed to shine through the use of fluorescent paint and black lights.

If you have children, I would highly recommend taking them to this evening’s performance at the Lied Center in Lincoln.  Although the show starts at 7, FamFest is starting at 5:30.

Caterpillar 4

FamFest includes dinner and family activities correlating with the show.  Having attended one of these events a few years ago, I can testify that they do a wonderful job of connecting the play with children.  I hope many of you make it out to the show tonight – you will not be disappointed!

Categories: Concerts and Performances, Lincoln, Metro, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exploring Art in Nebraska with Children

Is taking a preschooler to the art museum a crazy idea? No.  But that may not be the right place to start introducing your child to art.  Or I should rephrase that – the best place to first acquaint your children with fine art might involve a library card and a comfy cuddle chair.  Exposing your little ones to quality picture books is a great starting point.

Here are a few of our favorite illustrators

David Catrow: He does mainly cartoon illustrations that are always delightful!

This book has become an annual tradition in our house every Thanksgiving.  Over the River and Through the Woods illustrated by David Catrow

Ed Young: He usually has an Asian focus to his books – amazing illustrations!

Alice Provensen: Her illustrations evoke colonial and other time periods of long ago.  Classics.

Robert McCloskey: With only about a dozen books to his name, two won the Caldecott medal (see below for explanation) and two won the Caldecott honorable mention.  When you see his books, you will understand why!

Marcia Brown: Her illustrations evoke nostalgia and are classic block prints.

Eric Carle: His illustrations are whimsical and striking and enjoyable and …  These you have read to your kids without knowing their significance (such as Very Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?.  A whole book has been devoted to just his art and is amazing in and of itself.

The Eric Carle PIcture Book Museum also edited a book entitled Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrators Take to Children About Their Work – filled with various picture book artists.

Need even more ideas: This is the list from the American Library Assocation of all of the Caldecott Medal and Honor Books from 1938.  That award is given to the best picture book of the year.  (Note: While the illustrations in these books are amazing, I would definitely preview them for content.  Some of them may not be appropriate for young (or older) children in my opinion).

And one last list: Best Children’s Books Illustrators from Children’s Books Guide

Books About Art: Children’s Books Illustrated with Works of Art

My favorite author of this focus is Lucy Micklethwait.  Her “I Spy in Art” series is incredible.  The kids naturally engage in her books without even realizing they are actually exploring major artworks.

Richard Muhlberger has a whole series on specific artists (What Makes a Picasso a Picasso for instance)

Gladys Blizzard has a whole other series for children on looking for specific items in artworks.

For older children, Anna Nilsen wrote several books on identifying certain characteristics in art.  Of course, the kids actually think they are solving the mystery of which art is authentic and which one is stolen.

Narrowing your search to children’s titles, then searching “art appreciation” will lead to the discovery of even more titles.  (Note: all picture book covers were taken off the Amazon site – the titles can be purchased there for various prices and may also be available at your local area library)

Now on to visiting art galleries  …

I have taken our kids to museum.  And left without owing the place a bunch of money for destroyed artwork.  In fact, everything was intact.  Usually.  (More on that near the end of the entry about our recent trip to the Sheldon Museum of Art).

A view at the Joslyn

The Joslyn Art Museum can be found in Omaha.  They happen to feature backpacks that you can “check out” for children and then go on a scavenger hunt throughout the museum.  Paper is provided, so that you can create your own masterpieces.

What I think the key is to introducing kids to art museums and galleries: pick a place near your home, so that you can start slowly.  I have learned that my kids tend to get out of control when they are tired.  So if an hour or two at a museum makes you exhausted, imagine what that does to your kids!  So, twenty to thirty minutes may be about perfect.  Unless …

You manage to get them engaged in the artworks.  Some days this will work – sometimes it may not.  Follow the ideas from the art picture books – play “I Spy.”  At the Sheldon, they have black benches in the middle of each of the permanent display galleries.  You can sit together in the middle and search for shapes, colors, numbers and even certain objects.  This way you are out of range of the artworks but still are experiencing the art.  Some of the paintings are easy to engage with and others may stretch your mind a bit.  And you may want to choose your angle carefully depending on the museum.

Sheldon Mickey Mouse

What child would not enjoy seeing this painting that is on permanent display at the Sheldon Museum of Art in Lincoln?

Another great place to start is at a sculpture garden.  Since these are usually located outdoors, the pieces tend to be a bit more indestructible.  Plus often they involve a bit more of using your imagination.

Indian smoke signals at Pioneer Park

One of the many fun sculptures that you can find scattered throughout Pioneer’s Park in Lincoln.

One final note: as with books, you may want to preview art exhibits, especially if you tend to be conservative or have sensitive children.  While I respect the right of others to create art, I personally reserve my right to withhold my children from experiencing that art, especially when they are young!

P.S. Needing some ideas of places to go to begin experiencing art?  Here is a link to the eight Nebraska galleries featured in the Nebraska Passport program this year.


Categories: Recommended Reading, Travel Tips, Where to Begin | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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