Musical and Visual Interpretations of Classic Childrens’ Poems at The Carle

Leave Your Sleep 
by Natalie Merchant & Barbara McClintock
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
Nov 26, 2013 — May 4, 2014

The album Leave Your Sleep, which Merchant spent five years researching and writing, originated from a collection of poems — from such notable poets as E.E. Cummings, Ogden Nash, and Edward Lear — that come alive through an eclectic blend of styles, from folk to jazz to R&B to Celtic influence.

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art welcomes families to a special showcase of the art and collaborative work that resulted in the picture book Leave Your Sleep by Natalie Merchant, illustrated by Barbara McClintock. The book, published in 2012, followed the release of Merchant’s very successful double album of the same name two years prior. She transformed a selection of classic children’s poetry from poets including Ogden Nash, Edward Lear, and E.E. Cummings into a collection of original songs that comprise an eclectic blend of styles from folk to jazz to R&B to Celtic.

Merchant’s collaboration with McClintock is an attempt to make these poems and ideas even more accessible and exciting to kids: beautifully rendered in watercolors, a “parade of witches and fearless girls, blind men and elephants, giants and sailors” play out the ideas and emotions that the music evokes. “My hope is that this collaborative book of poems, pictures and music will provide many enchanted hours to children eager for beauty and the sort of adventure that happens between the pages of a book and the words of a song,” says Merchant.


The exhibition at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art will contain a mixture of finished images that were used for the book, along with reference images and drafts of drawings from McClintock’s artistic process and Merchant’s early ideas for the translation of her music into image and book form. The combination of images and styles of creating, displayed with equal weight on each, sends the message to audiences that the artistic process is valuable in and of itself – that the end product doesn’t always tell the whole story, and raises the question of what we might be missing when we only see the finished product?

The Carle’s hours through the end of May 2014, are: Tuesday through Friday 10am to 4pm, Saturday 10am to 5pm, and Sunday noon to 5pm. Admission is $9 for adults, $6 for children under 18, and $22.50 for a family of four. For more information: www.carlemuseum.org. 413-658-1100. 125 West Bay Road. Amherst, MA.

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