THE all-time classic picture book, from generation to generation, sold somewhere in the world every 30 seconds! Have you shared it with a child or grandchild in your life?
“The very hungry caterpillar literally eats his way through the pages of the book—and right into your child’s heart…”
“Gorgeously illustrated, brilliantly innovative…”
—The New York Times book Review
“In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf.” So begins Eric Carle’s modern classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. More than 12 million copies of this book have been sold in its original, full-sized edition, and the beloved tale of science and gluttony has been translated into 20 languages. This five-by-four-inch miniature edition is truly tiny, with tiny type, but it is a nice size for small hands to hold and flip through the pictures. Despite its diminished state, the book is complete in every detail, following the ravenous caterpillar’s path as he eats his way through one apple (and the pages of the book itself) on Monday, two pears on Tuesday, three plums on Wednesday, and so on, through cherry pie and sausage–until he is really fat and has a stomachache. And no doubt you know what happens next! Kids love butterfly metamorphosis stories, and this popular favorite teaches counting and the days of the week, too. A fun gift package for caterpillar fans. (Baby to preschool) –Karin Snelson
Eric Carle is the creator, author, and illustrator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and many other children’s books. Tomie dePaola is the author and illustrator of Strega Nona: Her Story and countless other books. They recently had a conversation about their careers as picture book authors.
Tomie dePaola: When I used to be only four years old, I announced to my family in particular and to the world in general that I used to be going to become an artist, and write stories and draw pictures for books. I never swayed from that early declaration. I’ve all the time been curious to know, what inspired you to become a creator and illustrator of picture books?
Eric Carle: My career began as a graphic designer and for a number of years I worked as an art director for an advertising agency in New York. In the mid 1960’s Bill Martin, Jr. saw an ad of a red lobster that I had designed and asked me to illustrate his Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Well, I used to be set on fire! I used to be so inspired by this book, and the opportunity to illustrate it changed my life. After that, I started to create my own books, both words and pictures, and really it was then that I had found my true course in life.
Now, I have a question for you, Tomie. How would you describe your artistic style, and has it changed over time?
Tomie dePaola: My illustration style is heavily influenced by folk art–strong simple shapes, bold lines, color, color, color and a deceptive simplicity. My style began to develop early in art school, and through the years, it hasn’t changed very much, but it has refined itself. How would you describe yours?
Eric Carle: My aim with my work is to simplify and refine, be logical and harmonious. I like to use simple shapes, bright colors and a large number of white space. I write for the child inside of me. That is all the time where I begin.
Tomie dePaola: I do, as well. The only audience I keep in mind is that four-year-old in me. People occasionally ask me what advice I would give to young artists. I all the time think of the wonderful advice I received from my twin cousins when they were in art school in the late ’30s. They told me, “Practice, practice, practice and don’t copy.”
Eric Carle: I regularly tell people about the four magic letters: DO IT. I want to be encouraging but I will be able to only offer the example of my own experience, which is just one approach. There are lots of wonderful artists to learn about, which is important. But you must use your own imagination. You have to just do it.
Tomie dePaola: How do you feel knowing that a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is sold every 30 seconds, somewhere in the world?
Eric Carle: It is hard for me, maybe for others too, to grasp this concept. But I am truly honored that my story is enjoyed by such a lot of and that it is now being shared by a generation of parents who grew up with my book. How about your Strega Nona. She is one of your most popular characters. Are you able to share how she came to be?
Tomie dePaola: In the ‘70s when I used to be teaching at a college, we were required to attend faculty meetings. I all the time sat in the back with a yellow legal pad. Everyone thought I used to be taking notes. At one meeting a doodle appeared of a little lady with a big nose and a big chin. I named her Strega Nona, and the rest is history. Speaking of history, how will you be celebrating the third annual Very Hungry Caterpillar Day this year?
Eric Carle: On The Very Hungry Caterpillar Day, March 20th, I will be able to probably be at home with my wife, Bobbie (I am a bit of a hermit, actually). But I will be able to be saying a little toast to the caterpillar for whom I have a special place in my heart. And speaking of holidays, isn’t your favorite holiday Christmas. Do you have a special Christmas memory?
Tomie dePaola: Christmas is my favorite holiday. My favorite Christmas was the one when I received tons and tons of art supplies: everything from an easel to paints, pads and pads of paper, and “how to draw” books.
A Look Inside The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Board Book)
(Click on Images to Enlarge)