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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Reporting: Eric Carle Honors 2009

Today, if I am not too much mistaken, Eric Carle will be stopping by my library to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar. This is happening in conjunction with the Jumpstart: Read for the Record campaign. We’ll be doing all sorts of things in my library today, though the one I’m the most excited about involved a man-sized Very Hungry Caterpillar costume. I want to see if he walks on his two hind feet in an unnatural fashion or if he does an actual caterpillar-esque crawl on his belly. Whatever they decide to do, it should be mildly terrifying. Pictures to come!

In the midst of all this, however, it seems a bit unfair that I wrote so much about our recent Pooh release, but not so much as a word about the Eric Carle Museum Honors I attended a week or so ago. My, but that was a fun party.  You see, every year the Eric Carle Museum honors some various geniuses in the children’s literary field on a variety of topics. The categories of honorees include Artist, Angel, Mentor, and Bridge. This year the folks being honored were:

Artist:  Alice Provensen
Angel: Kyle Zimmer
Mentor:  Walter Lorraine
Bridge: Blouke and Marianne Carus

The evening was held not in the University Club as it has in the past but at the Midtown Loft and Terrace which was perfectly nice.  Here are some shots from the roof.

I went up to the roof trying to feel spiffy, wondering whom I would talk to, and where they were hiding the bar.  Once there I spotted Lisa Von Drasek speaking with some folks and smiled a hello.  She waved me over and said to a nice older gentleman beside her, "This is Betsy Bird!  She works for New York Public Library" or something along those lines.  I smiled politely, he smiled politely, and both of us were mildly puzzled by Lisa saying, "Betsy!  Get your camera!"  I excused myself then, having spotted the bar that was hiding behind Mo Willems and his posse.

This what you call "foreshadowing".

On the roof, it was lovely.  Lots of publishing types and, for a change, a nice smattering of librarians as well.  Though, as one librarian confessed to me, "When all the publishers get together at one time, I have a hard time telling them apart!"  Yup.  It happens.

Then it was time for dinner, so we trooped down the stairs and took our seats.  As the seats were not assigned I latched onto the librarian table, which contained a couple fine pubs like Jean Feiwel for spice. Around the room there were some lovely pieces of art participating in a silent auction.  I drooled enviously over them, perhaps hoping that my drool would lower them in price.  No such luck.

Then came the speeches. As they began I heard that Eric Carle was present that night.  Eric Carle!  Fancy that.  Now imaging roughly five minutes ticking away.  This is what my thought process looked like:

Minute one:  Eric Carle is here!  Fancy that.
Minute two:  What’s the brown stuff they’re calling desert? Cause it ain’t chocolate and if it ain’t chocolate why is it brown and on my dessert plate?  Good god… that’s not tofu is it?
Minute three:  Stupid digital camera with its stupid tiny zoom… oh, wait.  That’s how it works.
Minute four:  Something… something important is occurring to me…
Minute five:  Did I meet Eric Carle on the roof earlier tonight?

Yes, ladies and gentlemen.  Such is the enviable speed with which the human brain works when in a fancy dress situation.  I started replaying that scene on the roof with Lisa Von Drasek and, yes, evidence began to suggest that the nice older gentleman I’d shaken hands with that evening had been Eric Carle.  Boy howdy, he must’ve thought I was the most blase been-there-seen-that children’s librarian on the face of the planet, with my polite smile and vague curiosity.

As I sat in mild shock I watched as the following folks stood up to speak.

Leonard Marcus was one of the first.

Joan Allen, the actress, presented an award to Kyle Zimmer. Not sure why.

Ms. Zimmer herself spoke.  If her name seems familiar at all to you, that would be because she is the co-founder of First Book.

David Wiesner, presented the award to Marianne Carus.  Marianne Carus who, doncha know, created Cricket Magazine with her husband Blouke.


Susan Meddaugh presented an award to Walter Lorraine.  Since Walter Lorraine was unable to accept the award at this time, a drawn image of Walter was created by Ms. Meddaugh as a kind of stand-in.

Paul Zelinsky presented an award to Alice Provensen.  Alice Provensen in the flesh accepted (Cece and Sam, I thought of you guys).

All the speeches were good, of course.  And I was particularly drawn to something Mr. Zelinsky said about how powerful images can be to children.  "When you’re little, your sense of things is heightened."  He was explaining the power of a page turn in Ms. Provensen’s The Color Kittens, which was a Little Golden Book I was unfamiliar with.

As for Ms. Provensen herself, she had flown in from California the night before.  "I must say, I miss New York."  That got a big cheer, it did.

Then it was food and mingling for all. And, of course, an enormous Very Hungry Caterpillar cake on display.

Alas, we were not allowed to eat it. Don’t think I didn’t try.  So I left with my goodie bag at the end of the night to find myself sharing an elevator with none other than Jerry Pinkney and his wife.  All in all, a very nice time was had by one and all.

Rocco Staino provides his own recap of the event here.  A big thank you to the very kind folks at The Eric Carle Museum for inviting me out.  Couldn’t have been nicer. 

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Jennifer Schultz says:

    Not allowed to eat it? It is almost too cute to eat (I would never say a cake is too cute to eat). What were they going to do with it?

  2. Was there any explanation as to what an “Angel” and a “Bridge” are? Or did you explain, and I missed it?

  3. Dunno what they did with it. Maybe it was added to a large butterfly shaped cake structure as well.

    And I myself was unclear on the distinction between “Angel” and “Bridge”. If you find the answer, let me know.

  4. Marcia Leonard says:

    About the cake: I heard it was made by The Cake Boss of Hoboken. True or false, I don’t know.

    About “Angel” vs. “Bridge”: Here’s the official wording from a Carle Museum press release :

    The Carle Honors pay tribute to four distinct forms of creative vision and long-term dedication to picture book art and its vital role in supporting art appreciation, early literacy, and critical thinking. The four categories acknowledge the contributions of the field’s most innovative Artists; the significant work of the editors, designers, educators, and other Mentors, who champion the art form; of the Angels whose generous financial support is crucial to making picture book art exhibitions, education programs, and related projects a reality; and of Bridges—individuals and organizations—that have found inspired ways to bring the art of the picture book to larger audiences through work in other fields.


    Love that cake! Fabboo!

  6. I love that you commented on those weird brown dessert thingees. We were all perplexed as to what they were. One thing they were not is delicious, although the event as a whole was lovely!

  7. Exactly! If it is brown and it is sitting on my dessert plate then my tongue is going to expect chocolate in some form. A tofu surprise is not going to make me happy.

  8. Heh. “Recent Pooh release.”

  9. My husband just replied, “That’s what I kept saying!”

  10. The cake was created by the Cake Boss and sheet cakes of it were served to guests. The original cake was donated to the MaryMount School where hundreds of students enjoyed this surprise – and you can see their happy faces on their website.

  11. Joan Allen presented the award to Kyle Zimmer because JA is a member of the board of First Book and has been active in literacy efforts in recent years.