Jeff and Cheryl New England Trip travel blog

We found out last night that the weather today was supposed to be off and on showers, some possibly heavy. So, we decided to put off going into Boston to tomorrow, and instead visit Amherst Mass.

We started the day with breakfast, not at our hotel (seems Hilton Garden Inn does not have complimentary breakfast). Instead we went to a fun place called the Friendly Toast. Great d├ęcor and atmosphere, and a very good although pricey breakfast. We probably were not going to need lunch.

After breakfast we headed to Amherst, about an hour and a half drive. We arrived at about 11:30 at our first stop, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. For those who are not familiar, Eric Carle is a very famous children's book author and illustrator. Probably his most famous book and character is The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Today at the museum there were three exhibits. The first was a display of Carle's work regarding the seasons. On the walls were original artwork about the four seasons which appeared in various books. In the middle of the room was a large area with "grass" for kids to play on. On the grass were three large (3') inverted cones (points up) covered in felt. Around on the floor were various shape and color pieces of felt that the kids were sticking to the cones in many different configurations. Looks like a really good idea for a small library, maybe Spotswood.

The second exhibit was a display of the artwork of Leo and Diane Dillon. They met at the Parsons School of design where they became arch rivals and lifelong partners, collaborating for over 50 years and collecting two consecutive Caldecott Awards for their work. They dedicated themselves to portraying children of color so young readers could see themselves reflected in stories. Their work displayed was very impressive.

The third exhibit was called Paddington Comes to America. The exhibit showed through original drawings how Paddington stories made it from England to America. At the beginning of the exhibit, we received a "passport" which we needed to get stamped at various stations throughout the exhibit. At each station there was a photo op of one of the major sites in London (Big Ben, Tower of London, etc.). There were also displays of some of the plush toys of Paddington. (Ed note: These figures are now available through the NJLA Store). Again we had a lot of fun.

Moving on from the exhibits, we also visited an outdoor pathway through gardens and natural areas (Mrs. Carle was very big on gardens and natural surroundings for kids), we visited an art studio for kids, stocked with different types of art supplies, and a library of picture books, as well as some plush Very Hungry Caterpillars. Nice place.

When we left the museum, we went about two miles to our next stop, the Yiddish Book Center. This is a center, dedicated to the collection and preservation of literature and other forms of media in Yiddish. We began by watching a video of the story of how the center got started, and the work that they do collecting, refurbishing and disseminating (both in hard copy and electronically) Yiddish writings, music, film and culture. We walked through their collection area, which showed how they sort and classify their findings. Their more valuable findings are kept off site in a climate controlled warehouse. We saw exhibits which showed pre holocaust Yiddish children's literature, Yiddish actors in movies (did you know that in various silent movies Yiddish speaking actors were hired to play Indians in westerns and if you look closely they are sometimes yelling "Gevaaaaallllt" as they attacked the wagon trains. Also, did you know that Leonard Nimoy started out as a Yiddish speaking actor? And in Blazing Saddles, Mel Brooks has the Indians speaking Yiddish. This was a very interesting and moving facility. We finally left at 4:00 their closing time.

We headed home, using the "scenic" route which took about 2 and a half hours. Much more interesting than the interstates.

Tomorrow: Boston.

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