A hungry caterpillar stands for photos at C. Burr Artz Library at the 50th anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

I got to celebrate a birthday for this week’s column, and that birthday was for a very important children’s book.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, written by Eric Carle, turned 50 and it was worthy of a party. So Dancing Bear Toy and Gifts and Curious Iguana teamed up with C. Burr Artz Library to have a celebration fit for...well...a caterpillar.

But let me back up a second. My co-worker, Jeremy Arias, who covers the city of Frederick heard about the event first and had all intentions on covering it. But since I write this Walk Around column, and like birthdays, I begged him to let me cover it.

Yes, two adults in their 30s had a friendly argument over who would cover a story about a children’s book. That’s how awesome Eric Carle is.

And as you can see, I won.

So I made my way over to the celebration at the library on Friday, I was immediately overwhelmed by the sea of children. I was told about 145 were in attendance.

But it was fun and the kids seemed to be having a great time. There was a life-size very hungry caterpillar kids could take photos with, plush toy caterpillars for sale and caterpillar crafts the kids could make.

“It’s madness,” said Marlene England, with a laugh.

England and her husband, Tom, co-own Dancing Bear and Curious Iguana.

“We're thrilled with the turnout,” she said. “And it's been wonderful to partner with the library for this. It's also the kickoff of our Indie Bookstore Day weekend and an early kickoff to Screen-Free Week and Children's Book Week, so all kinds of excitement starts this weekend.”

I must have just missed it, but she said all the kids sang Happy Birthday to the caterpillar.

Kids could make a caterpillar on paper with colorful do-a-dot markers and make little caterpillar headbands with paper, antennas out of pipe cleaners and colorful pom poms.

Also on sale was, of course, The Very Hungry Caterpillar book, a special 50th edition of the book and a Happy Birthday edition.

Because poor Jeremy stayed back at the office, I brought him back the book and a very hungry caterpillar temporary tattoo. I even shimmied my way up to the crafts table and made him a caterpillar headband. Yes he put it on once I got back to the newsroom.

But back to the celebration.

“It’s amazing, this book is 50 years old and look at the appeal it still has to all ages,” England said.

And she’s right. I feel like reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar in elementary school is mandated by the state. (I don’t really know that, but who hasn’t read the book?)

But it’s just definitely something you do. You read Shakespeare in high school and you read The Very Hungry Caterpillar in kindergarten.

“Anything that gets kids excited about reading and about books and a particularly such a long-time favorite kids book is just wonderful,” England said. “This book is one that has definitely stood the test of time.”

Follow CJ Fairfield on Twitter @FairfieldCj

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