The 9th Annual Carle Honors – 2014
Traditionally I tend to attend the Carle Honors secretly pregnant. I’m not sure why this is but at least twice I have walked about, discretely refusing any and all alcoholic beverages. One of those times I’d discovered the pregnancy mere hours before the event.
No hidden incipient heirs were on display this time around, and that suited me fine. But what are The Carle Honors, precisely? Well, they’re best described as an annual benefeit gala for The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. As their little program says, “At the heart of The Carle Honors is a constellation of awards celebrating those individuals whose creative vision and dedication are an inspiration to everyone who values picture books and their role in arts education.” Each year they designate someone (or sometimes someones) an Artist, a Mentor, an Angel, and a Bridge. This year those folks broke down into the following categories:
Artist – Jerry Pinkney
Mentor -Dr. Henrietta Mays Smith
Angel – Reach Out and Read (represented by Brian Gallagher & Dr. Perri Klass)
Bridge – Francoise Mouly
On this particular day I decided to lop off my hair right beforehand, thereby assuring that it fool people into thinking I have the ability to blow it out myself (note: I do not). I have an odd tendency to cut off large chunks of my hair upon the onset of fall after having suffered through a hairy summer. I have no idea why. Masochism’s my current working theory.
The event was held at Guastavino’s a fancy little event space where the Honors have been held for the last few years. It’s a nice area, with a little garden out front where you can change into your high heeled shoes and not look too tawdry doing so. Inside the hunt begins for waiters bearing trays of tiny food. You quickly denote your favorites and grab only those.
Every year the Carle has also hosts a big auction at the Honors to raise money. And because Ms. Mouly was being honored there were at least two original New Yorker covers, including the one that ran after 9/11/01.
Walking through it was time to play my favorite game of If I Had Money, Which One Would I Buy? In the end, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my favorite art was by Erin Stead. Shown here:
Can you see what it is? Probably not. My phone camera isn’t exactly high quality. In any case, these are various animals from the book A Sick Day for Amos McGee dressed up like other famous children’s literary characters. The rhino in the Snowy Day costume was worth my attendance that night alone.
After copious schmoozing and devouring of tiny foods it was time to take our seats for the show itself. And since we could choose any seat we wanted except those reserved, I plunked myself directly behind this:
My motivations weren’t actually creepy. It just happened to be the nearest to the podium I could get for my photos. Honest! Scout’s honor!
The festivities were to go on without the presence of Eric Carle himself, which may or may not have been a first. I got to have my usual smile over the perfection of the universe that a man named Christopher Milne was the head of the Carle’s board.
There was a brief presentation at the beginning highlighting some of the cool things the Carle does. For example, they had an event where picture book artists did portraits of kids’ stuffed animals. You cannot understand the wave of envy I experienced when I heard that. My daughter entertains a rotating cast of roughly 20-30 stuffed animals. To get an illustration of one of them would be absolutely delightful. Well done whoever thought that one up!
And then on to our hosts! Once again it was MA locals Tony DiTerlizzi and Angela DiTerlizzi. Tony got a big laugh when he began with, “I see Jerry Pinkney in the audience. Good luck, Jerry! I’m rooting for you tonight!” They also proceeded to show off a slide show of various picture book mash-ups. As you can (barely thanks to my camera) see, this is a rather seamless Eloise in the Hunger Games.
In the program there was a little flyer that gave the complete listing of everyone in attendance. Always nice to have proof of where I am at a given time. I like a good alibi. I also like how I was one of three alliterative BB names present that evening.
The first presentation was made for “Mentor” Dr. Henrietta Mays Smith. A former NYPL librarian (!!) Ms. Smith pretty much embodied everything I’d like to be by the time I reach her age. Whip smart and sharp as a tack she gave a great and very short little acceptance speech. I made a point to speak to her afterwards since I was fairly certain I was the only working public librarian there in attendance. She was mighty gracious and we discussed the various branches I live near.
Next it was a woman I’d actually seen once before at a dinner at NYU. Dr. Perri Klass should be flown out to every library in the nation to rally the troops. They should clone her. Make millions of her and distribute her worldwide because the good she has done with Reach Out and Read cannot be measured. It was wonderful to hear her speak with Mr. Gallagher.
Ms. Mouly was the next to be honored. I got a shot of her with Spiegelman’s head near blocking my view:
But this one’s nicer. I was so taken with her talk that I didn’t write almost any of it down. However there was one quote that stood out:
“With children you have to posit a future that is positive and bright.”
Finally, it was time to honor Jerry Pinkney. His talk was something else. First off, he took time to discuss his own personal connection to the museum. In the 1960s he was going to deliver art to a publisher. As he waited in the lobby the art of N.C. Wyeth graced the walls. That moment was pinpointed as the one that might have inspired Jerry to make art for kids. And, as he pointed out, the same could happen for some child in the Carle Museum.
He then quoted his great-granddaughter at the end of his talk. I was just stunned that he had one. Seriously? Well played, sir!
Finally, Tony and Angela paid tribute to outgoing curator of the Carle, Nick Clark. Nick gave a little speech saying “It’s been like getting paid to go to recess.” Aw. No replacement has been found for him quite yet but we’re keeping our ears open for any developments.
Oh! I almost forgot. Each year the Carle Honors give these lovely goody bags away. And what book was in this year’s bag? Amongst other none other than WILD THINGS: ACTS OF MISCHIEF IN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE!! I was so pleased to hear it.
Many thanks to the Carle for allowing me to attend the soiree. See you next year!
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy 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.
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