These, the compelling ending words at the beginning of Eric Carle’s, I See a Song, led me to choose it as my most favorite picture book. A close second is my other most favorite picture book by Bill Martin Jr.-- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? I’m drawn to both of these books for two primary reasons. First, the captivating, color-laden, collage technique that Carle employs forces the reader to see color as individual dots at first – as if part of a broken rainbow. And, secondly, the notable lack of words in I See a Song and the rhythm of the words in Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? are like looking at opposite sides of a coin at the same time.
In I See a Song, a musician takes us with him on a springtime journey as he touches the rainbow, painting music from the colors that he hears. In the course of observing nature’s processes to provide the colorful bounty, the musician himself is transformed as he bursts forth in full color and is himself altered. He seems to have grown, much like the brown buried bulbs that hold the promise of vibrant bouquets. Without the crutch of words, the reader is able to, as first asked, see his own song in the animated colors he hears in his own spirit
Author Martin, as related by Carle on a YouTube video, could not read until he was twenty years old, yet went on to write over 300 beloved children’s books. He had explained to Carle how he first sounded out the rhythms of the stories and then the words followed. To begin his writing process, Martin sang a wordless song. Martin’s reading teacher used rhythms to help Martin learn to read allowing him to find his song, giving rise to one of the most vibrant voices for read aloud books. Carle could see, could feel Martin’s song as he developed the colorful array of characters -- my favorites – Blue Horse, Blue Horse and Purple Cat, Purple Cat. It is a poignant touch that Teacher, Teacher was given his/her due.
I like to think this is Martin’s tribute to the person who knew that even at an older age, Martin could learn to read despite the fact that he could not learn this earlier. A teacher was there to offer encouragement to him so Martin could go on to write and compose all those storied songs. The imaginations of both Carle and Martin were vivid, and they worked in unison to hear the colors, to see the songs of their unique worlds.
As a writer and artist, I constantly seek to see my song, to hear the colors rushing at me. So much time is spent trying to find the bouquet amidst the ragweed, the crabgrass. How wonderful to be at the core of the creative process each day. My hope is that all color gatherers--all word gatherers sing and see every day, before the final exit – stage right.
N. Taylor Collins is an artist, published writer and national speaker. Taylor shares tips about the creative process as well as her outlook on life in her blog as well as other social media outlets. Taylor lives in Dover with her cats and grandson & currently serves as a board member of the Greater Dover Arts Council. She is past national president of the National League of American Pen Women (NLAPW). Her Website is www.NTaylorCollins.com