The Man Behind The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Eric Carle’s book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, published in 1969, has sold 30 million copies to date. What makes this book such a hit with children? Eric Carle talks about the success of the book and people and experiences that influenced his life.

Via theage.com.au

The path from Carle’s upbringing in Nazi Germany to the most beloved of children’s authors and illustrators is one that, when he cares to indulge in self-analysis, Carle admits makes a certain sense.The link between the deprivations of his early years and the slant of his artwork, so bursting with light and joy and exuberant colour, is such that, he says, if he had grown up in greater comfort he would probably be “pumping gas” these days.

His mother was supportive of her son’s love of art – “in awe” of it, in fact – but was in other ways a rather distant figure. She was not a “warm” individual. “She was a good mother. But . . . I hate to say this . . . I loved her, she was responsible, she was good . . . But I don’t have this feeling which I have towards my father, as something incredibly deep. When I was little, from the beginning, he read the funny papers to me, told me stories, drew pictures, went for walks. Telling stories and walking and stopping and looking; nothing terribly important. But that has been so important in my life. The older I get, the more I know that’s so true.”

Looking back, Carle identifies several key figures in his early life whom he likens to “dabs of paint”, the spots of colour that enabled his later success. One was his loving foster mother, to whom he was evacuated at 14 and allocated by default.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar was initially conceived by Carle as a hungry bookworm, eating its way through the pages. His long-time editor, Ann Beneduce, wasn’t sure about a worm as a central character and suggested a caterpillar. “Butterfly!” exclaimed Carle, and so it was born.

Read the entire article here.Image Source: tomeppy


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