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The Very Hungry Caterpillar Board book – March 23, 1994

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Editorial Reviews 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 and Tomie dePaola: Author One-on-One

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. Eric Carle

Tomie dePaola: When I was only four years old, I announced to my family in particular and to the world in general that I was going to become an artist, and write stories and draw pictures for books. I never swayed from that early declaration. I’ve always 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 was set on fire! I was 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 lot of white space. I write for the child inside of me. That is always where I begin.

Tomie dePaola Tomie dePaola: I do, as well. The only audience I keep in mind is that four-year-old in me. People sometimes ask me what advice I would give to young artists. I always 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 often tell people about the four magic letters: DO IT. I want to be encouraging but I can only offer the example of my own experience, which is just one approach. There are many 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 so many 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. Can you share how she came to be?

Tomie dePaola: In the ‘70s when I was teaching at a college, we were required to attend faculty meetings. I always sat in the back with a yellow legal pad. Everyone thought I was 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 probably be at home with my wife, Bobbie (I am a bit of a hermit, actually). But I will 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)
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From the Inside Flap

One sunny Sunday, the caterpillar was hatched out of a tiny egg. He was very hungry. On Monday, he ate through one apple; on Tuesday, he ate through three plums--and still he was hungry. Strikingly bold, colorful pictures and a simple text in large, clear type tell the story of a hungry little caterpillar's progress through an amazing variety and quantity of foods. Full at last, he made a cocoon around himself and went to sleep, to wake up a few weeks later wonderfully transformed into a butterfly!

Brilliantly innovative designer and artist Eric Carle has dramatized the story of one of Nature's commonest yet loveliest marvels, the metamorphosis of the butterfly, in a picture book to delight as well as instruct the very youngest reader or listener. Cleverly die-cut pages show what the caterpillar ate on successive days, graphically introducing sets of up to 10 objects and also the names of the days of the week in rotation, as well as telling the central story of the transformation of the caterpillar. The final, double-page picture of the butterfly is a joyous explosion of color, a vibrant affirmation of the wonder and beauty of Nature. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 1 - 3 years
  • Lexile Measure: 460L (What's this?)
  • Board book: 26 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel Books; Brdbk edition (March 23, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399226907
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399226908
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.7 x 5.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,165 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Eric Carle is acclaimed and beloved as the creator of brilliantly illustrated and innovatively designed picture books for very young children. His best-known work, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, has eaten its way into the hearts of literally millions of children all over the world and has been translated into more than 62 languages and sold over 38 million copies. Since the Caterpillar was published in 1969, Eric Carle has illustrated more than 70 books, many best sellers, most of which he also wrote.

Carle says: "With many of my books I attempt to bridge the gap between the home and school. To me home represents, or should represent; warmth, security, toys, holding hands, being held. School is a strange and new place for a child. Will it be a happy place? There are new people, a teacher, classmates - will they be friendly? I believe the passage from home to school is the second biggest trauma of childhood; the first is, of course, being born. Indeed, in both cases we leave a place of warmth and protection for one that is unknown. The unknown often brings fear with it. In my books I try to counteract this fear, to replace it with a positive message. I believe that children are naturally creative and eager to learn. I want to show them that learning is really both fascinating and fun."

Eric Carle has two grown-up children, a son and a daughter. With his wife Barbara, he divides his time between the Florida Keys and the hills of North Carolina.

For more information about Eric Carle and his books please visit:

The Official Eric Carle web site:
Eric Carle's Blog:
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art:
The World of Eric Carle:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

250 of 259 people found the following review helpful By Ann M. Huebner on June 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is one of my all-time favorite children's books. One sunny day, a caterpillar pops out of an egg. He is very hungry and begins searching for food. Now, many of Eric Carle's books have gimmicks--the tactile web in THE VERY BUSY SPIDER and the chirping in THE VERY QUIET CRICKET, for example. The gimmick in this book is that the caterpillar eats holes through all the food, holes that are actually punched into the pages of the book. It's a good gimmick, actually. Also, many of Carle's books teach conventions--telling time in THE VERY GROUCHY LADYBUG and animal sounds in THE VERY BUSY SPIDER, for example. This one teaches the days of the week. On Monday, the caterpillar eats this, on Tuesday he eats that, and so forth. Very cute. Eventually, he becomes a fat caterpillar. He then spins himself a cocoon, where he rests for two weeks. And when he emerges...well, you can guess the results. It's a wonderful story. Best of all, the text is very simple as are the illustrations, so the book will appeal to toddlers as well as the pre-K and kindergarten crowd. In fact, it may appeal more to toddlers, because the story is so very simple. I know I read it as a kindergartener. I loved the holes but found the story rather boring. I read it to my two-year-old this spring, however, and he went nuts over it. The days of the week were lost on him, but he was fascinated by the caterpillar turning into a butterfly--he had no idea! Can't tell you how many times we read it. We also re-enacted it, crawling on the floor and eating, spinning ourselves into cocoons, and popping out with fluttery wings.Read more ›
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118 of 124 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 10, 2000
Format: Board book
We have this book in a small and large size together with anEric Carle videotape that has the story. A young caterpillar is bornand begins to eat his way through the world and through many foods that you child will be able to identify. These foods are eaten on each of the seven days of the week, an added bonus, as your child begins to learn that Sunday is a different day that Monday. The caterpillar gets very fat. He builds a cocoon and then emerges a large beautiful butterfly. My 3 year old does not tire of this story. He learns about nature, food and the days of the week in one absolutely stunningly illustrated book. You can't get much better than this for young children. If you have young children, or if you are looking for a gift for a 4 year old and younger child, this book is highly, highly recommended. Enjoy.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By B. Mandel on December 26, 2014
Format: Board book
All the reviews here about size and other issues confused the h*** out of me... so I'm going to help you all out and be extremely specific. I took a chance (since I'm overseas, I can't return it) and bought the Very Hungry Caterpillar Board Book w/ Plush Toy from Amazingsalebooks in used / like new condition for under seven bucks. It is a gift for an expectant mother. I am very happy with this purchase (see my pics). Everything came in like new condition as the seller stated -a relief, because I was reluctant to buy used for a book and plush toy meant for a newborn. Both were spotless, vibrant, and free of creases and markings). Even the gift box it comes in came relatively uncrushed (after traveling in my friend's suitcase through three countries). What I received appears to be a genuine Eric Carle product -the book I got is published by Philomel 1987 edition. I saw reviews where people complained about the print, maybe it was for a smaller edition; I found the print here to be fine. I would say it is about font size 16.

The book itself is cute and perfect to read for babies and toddlers (repetition teaching days of the week, numbers 1-7, fruits and other foods, and life cycle). The colors are very vibrant and the book has all the little holes (about the size of a standard hole punch... you won't be able to stick your fingers through, which also means baby can't rip it). It is a solid, sturdy, proper board book with smooth finished edges that I feel comfortable having a baby touch (or even if they suck on it before you notice and pull it out of their mouth).

The plush toy is also very well constructed with no loose seems and withstands gentle tugging on the ears, legs, and colored fringy hairs (of course you always need be careful with babies and choking on anything and not let them suck on this more than a moment or unsupervised).

Unrelated, I bought a cute Eric Carle baby rattle -see my other review if you are curious.
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123 of 138 people found the following review helpful By Kawika on March 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Don't get me wrong. I LOVED this book as a child, so I couldn't wait to get a copy for my kid. I was in such a hurry that I didn't realize what this publisher (or Amazon) calls MINIATURE EDITION must actually mean miniature edition for hobbits. The text in this book is so small, that I'm afraid it will hurt my child's eyes. Maybe I'm paranoid, but I hate this edition of the book because it's ridiculously small. I mean, it's that revolting.

You might not mind this size, but I heavily recommend checking it out before you purchase. There a much better sizes at Target that actually look like a miniature size for humans, as opposed to this pocket sized edition. This book does not include how the very hungry caterpillar ate a small hole in my wallet either, go figure.
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