Exhibit | December 1, 2015

The Eric Carle Museum Presents the Art of William Pène du Bois

(Amherst, MA)—The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art commemorates the literary and artistic contributions of Newbery Award-winning American author and illustrator William Pène du Bois with the exhibition A Taste for Adventure: The Art of William Pène du Bois opening December 15 and running through May 1, 2016. Pène du Bois is the author and illustrator of numerous children’s books known for both their whimsy and serious themes. He published his first picture book at age twenty and continued writing and illustrating the rest of his life.

This exhibition, organized by Carle Curator Emeritus H. Nichols Clark, marks the centenary of Pène du Bois’s birth. Featured are illustrations from his 1947 Newbery Award-winning book, The Twenty-One Balloons, the fantastic story of Professor William Waterman Sherman’s around-the-world balloon voyage of 1883. Also on view are illustrations of Giant Otto, a large yellow hound who uses his size and strength to perform good deeds. Other endearing Pène du Bois characters come to life in Elizabeth the Cow Ghost, The Horse in the Camel Suit, and Porko von Popbutton. Pène du Bois’s illustrations animate text by such legendary authors as Isaac Bashevis Singer and local professor and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Wilbur.

“Pène du Bois is a master of delicate line,” says Chief Curator Ellen Keiter. “His fine draughtsmanship, combined with engaging stories and a comic cast of characters, makes for sophisticated yet spirited illustrations.”

In addition to featuring art from its permanent collection, the Museum borrowed illustrations from the Pène du Bois estate and several private collectors. In 1948, the American Library Association (ALA) honored Pène du Bois with its Newbery Medal—awarded annually to the most distinguished book of American literature for children—for The Twenty-One Balloons. Pène du Bois is among the elite few who have received both a Newberry Medal and a Caldecott Honor. The ALA twice awarded him Caldecott honors—in 1952 for Bear Party and in 1957 for Lion—in recognition of those superb picture books.


The son of noted American painter and art critic Guy Pène du Bois William Pène du Bois seemed destined by family influence to become an artist. His ancestry includes painters, architects, and designers in every generation since 1738. He studied art in France and began publishing books for children in the mid-1930s. He served in World War II as a correspondent for Yank and other magazines and became the first art director of The Paris Review in 1953. A highlight of his career was winning the Newbery Medal in 1948 for The Twenty-One Balloons. As an illustrator, he was awarded Caldecott Honors in 1952 for Bear Party and in 1957 for Lion. In addition to his own stories, he also illustrated books by such notable authors as Roald Dahl, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edward Lear, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Jules Verne, and Mark Strand.


The mission of The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, a non-profit organization in Amherst, MA, is to inspire a love of art and reading through picture books. The only full-scale museum of its kind in the United States, The Carle collects, preserves, presents, and celebrates picture books and picture book illustrations from around the world. In addition to underscoring the cultural, historical, and artistic significance of picture books and their art form, The Carle offers educational programs that provide a foundation for arts integration and literacy. Eric Carle and the late Barbara Carle founded the Museum in November 2002. Eric Carle is the renowned author and illustrator of more than 70 books, including the 1969 classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Since opening, the 43,000-square foot facility has served more than half a million visitors, including 30,000 schoolchildren. The Carle houses more than 13,000 objects, including 6,600 permanent collection illustrations. The Museum has three art galleries, an art studio, a 150-seat theater, picture book and scholarly libraries, and educational programs for families, scholars, educators, and schoolchildren. Educational offerings include professional training for educators around the country and a Master’s degree programs in children’s literature with Simmons College. Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 12 noon to 5 p.m. Open Mondays in July and August and during MA school vacation weeks. Admission is $9 for adults, $6 for children under 18, and $22.50 for a family of four. For further information and directions, call 413-658-1100 or visit the Museum’s website at www.carlemuseum.org