In one way, 3-year-old Stamford resident Noah Liebler knew exactly what he was about to see. “ ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar!’ ” exclaimed Noah and his friend Jose Hernandez, 4, naming the popular children’s book by Eric Carle. A live puppet version was presented to about 1,000 pre-schoolers Thursday morning on the Stamford Center for the Arts/The Palace stage.

In another way, the vivid colors, flying animals and engaging narrative grabbed the youngsters with an element of novelty that make for lasting impressions.

“Great!” is how Noah described the performance afterward. “The caterpillar was fat and he turned into a butterfly and he came out of the cocoon.”

Though he liked the caterpillar, Noah had another favorite element of the show. “The rainbow,” he said.

The youngsters were from Childcare Learning Centers and the Sacred Heart School in Stamford. In addition to “TheVery Hungry Caterpillar,” they saw puppet enactments of Carle’s  “Little Cloud” and “The Mixed-Up Chameleon” performed by the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia.

The show was supported by the Stamford School Readiness Foundation and made possible through a number of contributors. They included the theater, Pitney Bowes, NBC Universal, The Ferguson Library, Fairway Market, Kaleidoscope Boutique and Remo's Restaurant.

Like Noah, many youngsters were seeing live theater for the first time.

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Childcare Learning Centers head teacher Joanne Vermilyea. “They’ve been reading the book and preparing all week. They’re ready. It’s very exciting for them to see a book come to life.”

The School Readiness Foundation augments and enhances available Stamford School Readiness Programs and other preschool programs. School Readiness helps prepare children for kindergarten learning.