I grew up with Eric Carle books, and now my kids are. Eric is still alive at eighty-four, has illustrated over seventy books, and has sold over 103 million copies of his books around the world. Now that is the stuff of legends.

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? was a nightly ritual at our house, as were many of his others. I love that so many Eric Carle books have always pushed the envelope. The Very Hungry Caterpillar  isn’t just a book about a caterpillar who eats through cake and candy, which is already fun, but there are actual holes in the pages, and different sized pages to take you through the days of the week. It’s genius.

Years and years ago, I saw an episode of Mister Rogers Neighborhood where Mr. Rogers visited with Eric Carle at his studio and demonstrated how he creates his illustrations. I’ve always wanted to show my kids how to do it. So today, for Eric Carle’s birthday, we did it.

All you need is some tissue paper, large paint brushes, tempera paint, sturdy white paper, and some glue sticks.

Arrange the tempera paint on a palette. Cut the normal everyday tissue paper into pieces no larger than the sturdy white paper you will be sticking the pictures to later.


Place a piece of tissue paper on a flat, cleanable surface. Be generous with the paint, and mix the different colors right on the paper. Paint all the way to the edges. When there are no more white spaces, move the painted paper to a flat surface to dry, or hang it on a line to dry. Clean your workspace and start a new piece of tissue paper with a different color.


Keep repeating the process until you have all the colors you can imagine.


Once all the paper is dry, cut the different colors into the shapes you will need to create the pictures you want. Then use a glue stick to glue the pieces of colored paper onto the sturdy white paper.


Allow to dry, and then you have your finished picture.


And with that, we’d like to say . . .