I had the honor to attend a happy and heart-warming celebration of Eric Carle’s 80th birthday and The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s 40th anniversary at a spacious terrace and loft in New York City on September 24. Superb, renowned illustrator Eric Carle is a charming, generous and funny man. When we arrived, Mr. Carle and his wife Barbara warmly greeted everyone. At one moment, I glanced over and saw Mr. Carle bending down graciously to talk with beautiful Alice Provensen, now in her 90s, who had traveled all day on a plane from California to attend and accept the Carle Artist Award. What a legacy of children’s illustrators in the room.
The loft terrace was bathed in light as the sun set on a perfectly warm fall evening. All of Mr. Carle’s friends saluted him and the Museum surprised him with a giant birthday cake shaped like the Very Hungry Caterpillar! Awardees received a precious framed print of a Carle butterfly. It was wonderful to see so many friends of First Book including Laura Geringer, Judith Haut, Lisa Holton, Leonard Marcus and Amy Schwartz, Ned Rust, Susan Katz, Barbara Marcus, to name a few, at the festivities.
Our talented friend and great supporter, Joan Allen, fresh from her riveting portrayal of Georgia O’Keeffe, was on hand to introduce First Book President, Kyle Zimmer, as the winner of the Carle Angel Award. Kyle told a wonderful story of one of our book Recipient Groups who used the Very Hungry Caterpilla to start a reading group among teen mothers and how it brought laughter to their stormy lives.
A great event with kudos and many thanks to Alix, Mo, Rebecca, and all the wonderful Museum staff. What a heritage they are preserving!