Each September, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, of Amherst, MA, comes to New York City to host a gala evening celebrating the art of the picture book and honoring the lifetime achievements of four of the most creative members of the children’s book world. As founder of the Carle Honors Awards and chair of the committee that selected this year’s Carle Honors recipients, Leonard made these remarks at the ceremony held on September 28, 2017:
2017 CARLE HONORS Introduction
As chair of the Carle Honors Committee, I would like to add my welcome to our New York hideaway under the bridge that E.B. White once said reminded him of a spider web. And I’d like most especially to welcome this year’s honorees.
In my recent travels, I have seen that people in places as different as Beijing and Mexico City are just now, for the first time in their history, discovering the picture book both as an art form as a gateway to a better life for their children. Artists in these and other countries are rising to the challenge, often turning to American picture books for their models, and publishers, educators, parents, and others are all doing their part. To give just one example, in China, where there is no public library system or museum like the Carle, literacy-minded mothers have begun opening up their homes as private libraries for sharing picture books with their neighbors and educating them about the benefits of reading to their children.
Picture-book makers, by introducing new generations to the life-long rewards and pleasures of reading, are among the people who hold our fragile web-like world together, but they have never been able to do it alone. For 12 years, the Carle Honors have recognized the sustained efforts of a wide array of individuals and organizations that have each made a vital contribution to the important work of bringing the best possible children’s books into the world, and of putting those books into children’s hands.
This year, we again honor picture-book people in four categories:
ARTIST: for an illustrator who has made a lasting contribution to the art of the picture book;
MENTOR: for an editor, art director, educator, or other professional concerned with the championing of artists, writers, and their work;
ANGEL: for inspired efforts by a philanthropist, government administrator, or other cultural leader in support of children and the artists and writers who create children’s books;
BRIDGE: for a scholar, critic, media innovator, or other professional for bringing picture books to new audiences and for enriching our understanding of the picture book as an the art form.
Each of our honorees will receive a limited edition lithograph by Eric depicting the butterfly from The Very Hungry Caterpillar that has become a symbol around the world of the bright future that all children deserve. We hope that our Honorees—and all of you too—will come to Amherst and visit the Carle where you are sure to find two or three splendid art exhibitions on view at any time, plus the art studio, the bookstore, the apple orchard, and a whole lot more.
Thank you for listening. And now here to introduce our honorees is Jack Gantos.