Thursday, May 21, 2009
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Turns 40
It's the fortieth anniversary of Eric Carle's classic children's book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a wonderfully vibrant, tactile, and poignant tale of a voracious young caterpillar's journey to butterflyhood known and loved by millions around the world.
Since the book was first published in 1969, it has sold more than 12 million copies in 45 languages. Carle, who turns 80 this year, is still going strong (check out his blog), and Philomel has just published a new hardcover pop-up version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar . The Very Hungry Caterpillar is published by Penguin Books in the UK and Commonwealth.
The famed caterpillar actually began his life as an ordinary worm. After some fortuitous experimentation with a hole puncher, Carle got to thinking about a bookworm and created A Week with Willi Worm, which ended with the title character growing into a morbildy obese worm. "I showed it to my editor, Ann Beneduce, and she didn't like the worm so much," explains Carle in a video on his website. "She said, 'How about a caterpillar?' And I said, 'Butterfly!'" And the rest is history.
What accounts for the enduring appeal of the red-faced caterpillar made from Carle's distinctive collages of hand-painted tissue paper? "Aside from the story, aside from the graphics, the touchable holes, and the learning that's camoflaged in there, I think it's a book of hope: you can grow up, fly into the world with your talents," he says.