After a year of not hosting due to the pandemic, the Carle Honors returned to New York in a grand fashion as more beautiful art pieces were up for auction and honorees were in attendance. Hosted by the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, the annual gala returned as an in-person event for the first time since 2019 at Guastavino’s. This year’s festivities were co-chaired by author Suzanne Collins and her husband Charles Pryor as this year’s event honored the best in literary art from all walks of life. The Carle Honors was certainly the place to be to bring together writers, artists, readers, critics, scholars, librarians, and the media to celebrate the power of books and the beautiful illustrations that cover these pages. There were also some great pieces of artwork being auctioned by some of the most memorable writers and illustrators in the field.
The event kicked off with an introduction by children’s book historian and museum trustee Leonard S. Marcus to the event. He shared how the community has grown in the past 20 years since the Carle Honors began. As is custom, the honors go by four different categories: Mentor, Bridge, Angel, and Artist. Mentor honors those working behind the scenes like librarians and editors. The Bridge category celebrates those who bring literature on a global scale no matter what part of the world they are from. The Angel category is enlisted in those who provide inspiration to readers, writers, and artists. Lastly, Artist goes to illustrators who have made an impact on their field and on the literary spectrum.
The first to receive honors were Wade and Cheryl Hudson, authors and founders of their publishing house Just Us Books. Their contributions to children’s books that reflect on the African-American experience were worthy to receive honors in the Mentor category. After receiving their award, both of them addressed the importance of books, especially to the Black community. They also encouraged other Black creators to tell their stories and hope to continue to help authors and illustrators make their mark in the literary space.
The next award given was for the Bridge category, which was given to Ajia for his contribution to children’s books and for helping bridge the gap between the West and the East with his translations from English to his native Chinese. After leaving his career in law, Ajia dedicated his life to translating and writing picture books. The honoree spoke about how the birth of his daughter changed his life for the better. He talked about how books have given children the ability to learn more about the world around them and felt the honor of being able to do that with his translations. He sees his work helping not just kids, but adults to bridge the gap and bring forth the power of reading.
Famous country singer Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library was given the award for the Angel category. Parton’s organization has helped reach children all over the world through reading by sending books all over the world. Executive director Jeff Conyers accepted the award on Parton’s behalf, saying how much Parton has changed kids’ lives by spreading the joys of reading. The organization has given more than 180 million books since it started in 1995. As this is the 50th anniversary of Eric Carle’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Parton gave a special forward that was quoted by Conyers after accepting the award.
The final award was given to Faith Ringgold, a legend in the literary community who has worked as a painter, sculptor, and activist. Winning the Artist category, she is an award-winning illustrator who has created children’s books that have received noteworthy praise for her work. Her agent Marie Brown accepted the award on her behalf, saying hour much of a beacon the 91-year-old has been over the years. She also shared a letter from Ringgold thanking her peers for the award and her love of creating beautiful pieces of art in the books she’s made.
The event was lauded with featured artwork up for auction donated by many famed illustrators like Jon Agee, Thao Lam, Faith Ringgold, Maurice Sendak, and Eric Carle as well.
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