In very sad news, Eric Carle — who brought us one of the most beloved children’s books of all time, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, — has passed away at the age of 91.
The author and illustrator had over 70 books published over his lifetime, including Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, The Grouchy Ladybug, The Honeybee and the Robber and A House for Hermit Crab.
While Carle had a long and legendary career, The Very Hungry Caterpillar was his best-known work. The story was published in 1969 and was adapted for the 1993 UK TV movie The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Stories. Those other stories included Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me, The Very Quiet Cricket, The Mixed-Up Chameleon and I See a Song.
Carle was born in Syracuse, New York on June 25, 1929, and worked as a graphic designer for The New York Times during the 50s.
His work was noticed by Bill Martin Jr, who asked him to provide the illustrations for his Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? — with the book becoming Carle’s breakout in 1967.
The whimsical characters included a brown bear, a yellow duck, several other colourful animals and some humans, which helped parents teach their toddlers about colours and shapes. Three spinoffs followed — Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? (1991), Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? (2003) and Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? (2007).
In 2003, Carle received the American Library Association’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, which honours children’s book writers and illustrators who have made indelible contributions to the world of children’s literature.
In 2019, Carle’s work was the subject of a touring museum exhibition called Eric Carle’s Picture Books: 50 Years of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
He passed away in Northampton, Massachusetts.