On May 26, 2021, the Eric Carle page on Facebook shared that the famous author passed away on May 23rd, at Sunday, at 91.
Educators, parents, children, and all those who read his many books mourn the loss of this amazing human being. Eric Carle was most famous for the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a winner of many children’s literature awards and a major graphic design award since its release in 1969. It is so well-loved that it has been translated to more than 60 languages and sold over 33 million copies worldwide.
Eric was so successful that, along with his wife, Barbara, they established The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in 2002. There is even merchandise sold (from toys to clothes to floor rugs) based on his books under the brand The World of Eric Carle.
I came across The Very Hungry Caterpillar for the very first time in my first year as a preschool teacher, and it was magical. The book helped me connect to my class using humor and imagination. Needless to say, I read it with my students over and over, and they loved each telling.
It’s understandable how mesmerized we are by The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It’s a book that can be relished by children of all ages and their teachers and parents. It’s really a piece of art that we can interact with.
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Eric Carle was known for innovating the use of collage illustrations, vivid colors, and delightful characters. Children loved the holes in this book that allow them to imagine the caterpillar eating his way through the pages.
Even though the character is a caterpillar, we can all relate to him, especially the part about gorging food enthusiastically. My kinder students loved “knowing better” than the caterpillar when he went on his Saturday binge. “Oh no!” they would shout in unison as he gobbled up one treat after another. It brought us together as we worried and cheered for him.
Over the years, my daughter and I have complained of tummy aches after indulgent meals, only to admit we may have behaved like the hungry caterpillar.
When the caterpillar finally turns into a butterfly, we all feel a sense of satisfaction — who doesn’t appreciate a happy ending? Whether it’s your first or 500th time reading the book, I can assure you that when you see the beautiful butterfly on the last page, you cannot help but smile.
Best of all, it’s a book packed with lessons that are not difficult to teach. In fact, we naturally learn so many things like days of the week, counting, fruits, the benefits of eating well, and metamorphosis. We know about growing and change without a preachy sermon.
In his own words, Eric Carle talked about the book by saying, “I think it is a book of hope. Children need hope. You, little insignificant caterpillar can grow up into a beautiful butterfly and fly into the world with your talent.”
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Thank you, Eric Carle, for guiding butterflies through our journey.