Eric Carle: Author Study and Lesson Plan by Lauren Zucatti

Lauren Zucatti


Who is Eric Carle?

     Eric Carle was born in 1929 in Syracuse, New York.  When he was six, he and his family moved to Germany where he studied at a respected art school.  In 1952, Carle followed his dream and moved to New York to pursue an opportunity with fine arts.  Shortly after he arrived, he became a graphic designer at The New York Times and later worked as the art director of an advertising agency.  After seeing a red lobster that Carle had created for an advertisement, a well-known educator and author, Bill Martin Jr, requested for Carle to illustrate a story for him.  The two worked together and created the renowned Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Biographical Notes, n.d.).  After this experience, Carle’s career took off!

     Eric Carle’s motivation for creating such amazing books comes from his understanding of children’s inexperience, naiveté, and emotions.  Carle once said, “With many of my books I attempt to bridge the gap between the home and school. To me home represents, or should represent; warmth, security, toys, holding hands, being held. School is a strange and new place for a child. Will it be a happy place? There are new people, a teacher, classmates—will they be friendly? (Biographical Notes, n.d.)”  He creates his books to help students overcome the changes and unfamiliar territory associated with being in school.  He admits that his transition between home and school were not easy, so he tries to help children through the experience with his books.  In many of his stories he uses features like cutouts, flaps, and raised textures to make the book seem more like a toy for the children to interact with (Biographical Notes, n.d). He wants to make his stories relatable and engaging for students, so they can be interested and excited to learn about new topics.

One of the qualities that make Eric Carle’s work so unique are his illustrations in every book.  To create his art work for the books, he uses a collage technique where he paints over tissue paper, using different tools such as paint brushes, fingertips, sponges, or stamps, to help create texture.  Many of the characters in the books are colorful animals influenced by his walks in the woods with his father during his childhood (Eric Carl, n.d.).  The artistic aspects and characters help make the stories a stimulating experience for children.

Biographical Notes for Eric Carle. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2017, from

Focus Mini-Lesson

[Eric Carle]


  • Today we are going to learn about an interesting strategy Eric Carle uses in his stories, so we can hopefully use it in our writing too! In the story, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Eric Carle uses a crafting technique that looks like this: “Red bird, red bird, what do you see? I see a yellow duck looking at me.” This way of writing shows the reader that the characters are talking to each other and it helps us understand more about the book from the character’s perspective.

Teaching Point

  • We are going to call this crafting technique “conversation.” We can use “conversation” when we are drawing and writing narratives to show two different characters talking to each other.  Writing the conversation in our story can be tricky, so we can show “conversation” in our illustrations by drawing something called “speech bubbles.”  This will help us understand what each character is thinking and saying from their own point of view.


  • Eric Carle also uses “conversation” in Have You Seen My Cat? The illustrations show that the main character, a young boy, is talking to different characters on each page.  The little boy asks each different character, “Have you seen my cat?”  When the characters try to answer him by showing different cats, he responds to them by saying, “This is not my cat.”
    • Here is my illustration for these words. I used “conversation” by drawing my picture, adding speech bubbles, and writing what the characters were talking about.
  • In my story I used “voice” like this:

On a warm spring day I asked my mom if I could go outside to play.  “Can I go play at the park,” I said. “Not right now” mom said. “It is almost dinner time.”

  • Here is my illustration for this page in the book. As you can see I put speech bubbles to show my characters’ “conversation.”

Guided Practice

  • Using this technique, Sally tell us how her characters were talking in her story about going shopping. What did your friend want to buy? What did she tell you to buy? Jayvin could also use this technique to show what his brother was telling him during their basketball game.

Turn and talk to your partner and tell them which characters in your story are going to talk today.  What are they going to talk about?

I will call on three or four people to share their ideas with the class.


  • Today when you are writing your stories, try to show the reader a “conversation” the characters are having. You can show this by using speech bubbles in your pictures. Help us get to know your characters more!

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