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The Very Hungry Caterpillar Hardcover – Picture Book, October 15, 1981

4.8 out of 5 stars 7,978 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

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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
(Click on Images to Enlarge)

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.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ World of Eric Carle (October 15, 1981)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0399208534
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0399255564
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 2 - 5 years
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ AD460L
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.11 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 12.13 x 0.47 x 8.63 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 7,978 ratings

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About the author

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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 41 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. 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: http://www.eric-carle.com

Eric Carle's Blog: http://www.ericcarleblog.blogspot.com

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art: http://www.carlemuseum.org

The World of Eric Carle Amazon UK page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/l/1658013031

Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5
7,978 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on November 3, 2018
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3.0 out of 5 stars I guess the caterpillar wasn't that hungry
By Rebecca on November 3, 2018
The problem with Amazon reviews is that some people are reviewing the content of the story while other people are reviewing the quality of the product, and they don't always match up.

The story, of course, is a classic. We had the Very Hungry Caterpillar as a board book from the time my kid was born until a cat hairballed on it a couple years later. I didn't replace it because I figured he was outgrowing board books anyway. However when we saw it as a paperback at his dentist's office a few weeks ago, he got so excited that I realized we need to own it again.

The actual book however, didn't have the pages cut or holes punched where the caterpillar eats through the foods. That's always been a defining feature of this book so it's just not the same. I'm returning it and will have to try again from an actual store where I can flip through it first.
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257 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on October 19, 2017
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53 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on December 19, 2017
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24 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on December 28, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on May 5, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on April 25, 2019
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2.0 out of 5 stars A little disappointed
By Blacat Lady on April 25, 2019
I love this book it is one of my favorites but I was disappointed when it opened the book and it did not have the flip pages that reveal the next fruit of the day . My kids were confused and kept counting the vegetables from the day before . My purpose was to use it as book a counting but I had to keep explaining that they don’t count the first group they just count the second group.
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8 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on February 27, 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bright pictures. Strong pages.
By ALD on February 27, 2021
The color in the illustrations is vibrant. Some updates have been made to the illustrations making them more crisp. The pages are strong and will hold up to toddler fingers. I also have a paperback edition of this book published by Scholastic in the 1970s. The difference in color quality is shocking making purchase of this hardback worthwhile.
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2 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on January 15, 2019
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Top reviews from other countries

Carolin
1.0 out of 5 stars Dont oder if its not a hardcover
Reviewed in India on February 24, 2019
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39 people found this helpful
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Crooh
3.0 out of 5 stars Not good it’s very small
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 6, 2019
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8 people found this helpful
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J Jordan
5.0 out of 5 stars Grea quality, good value
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 4, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars Grea quality, good value
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 4, 2020
Delighted when book arrived as I had seen previous reviews about the poor quality. The book was perfect! It was great quality, no issues with the print. Bright and colourful illustrations and very clear print. It is a small book but it's aimed at babies and toddlers so perfectly suitable. The little caterpillar was well made and very colourful. Not sure if safe/suitable for little babies but a great prop for the adult to use when sharing the story. The shop price was on the back of the box too which makes it very good value. Bought for a gift. Very happy with purchase.
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rattyratbag
5.0 out of 5 stars BUY IT READ IT, GET SOME FRUIT AND CAKES AND MAKE IT AN AFTERNOON OF ENJOYMENT AND EDUCATION
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 20, 2014
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P. Barton
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute must in your collection for reading to young grandchildren.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 18, 2020
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