The Picky Reader: An Amherst Getaway

I finally (finally!) brought my son to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. It’s located in Amherst, Mass., and if you haven’t gone, go. It’s a gorgeous, light-filled space that made me say to my husband, “Let’s get married again and have the reception here.” There are four galleries, one permanently displaying the art of Eric Carle. Task your child with finding the Very Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear on the wall. The other galleries have temporary exhibits; right now, the art of Mo Willems is on display in one. Kids were going crazy at the sight of Trixie and Knufflebunny, Elephant and Piggie, and of course, that persistent Pigeon who never quite gets his way.

There is a library inside the museum with puzzles, games, and pictures to color, as well as an incredible selection of books, if your child feels like holing up and reading. Families also have a chance to engage in some cut paper and collage art in the craft room. The art project changes every six weeks, and paper, glue, and scissors are displayed on low tables. We made birds with cool crayon-rubbed textures for feathers.

The museum has special events, so check their calendar before you go. Another tip that we discovered: Admission on the first Saturday of every month is free for Bank of America cardholders. You can save the $9 adult fee and pay only $6 for your child. Afterward, walk down West Bay Road to the Atkins Farms store, and decide for yourself if their famous cider doughnuts are the best you’ve tasted.

While you’re out in Western Mass., there’s lots to do, including the Holyoke Children’s Museum, Look Park in Florence with a steamer railroad ride, and, if the kids are older, the Emily Dickinson House. I’d like to make a plug for the R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton as well. Richard Michelson exhibits and sells original art by a number of great children’s book artists, including Dr. Seuss, Kadir Nelson, Mo Willems, and Maurice Sendak. The galleries are in a beautiful renovated bank in downtown Northampton. Go take a look at the art, and then head down Crafts Ave. to Pizzeria Paradiso for a great meal.

Happy art-filled travels!

Holding books for children to the highest standard, Elaine Dimopoulos teaches writing and children’s literature at Boston University, Simmons College, and Grub Street. Find her at

The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog contributor’s. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Writers opinions are their own.

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