Art, Books, Current Events, Life

The Very Wonderful Eric Carle: A Tribute

I recall reading Eric Carle for the very first time when I became a mom. While I might have seen them in India before that, I can’t be too sure of the same. Granted, I might’ve briefly glanced at his books on visits to libraries and bookstores after I moved to the US. But my journey towards this tribute to The Very Wonderful Eric Carle began with motherhood. The news of his passing reminded me of this very post I first wrote almost three years ago; and I wanted to add some more of my thoughts to it to create my tribute to an author who has certainly left a legacy for generations to come.

I very recently discovered the delightful Eric Carle’s Animals, Animals; and while I wondered how I had not seen it before, I was glad to have come upon it. And this discovery led me to more previously overlooked gems by Carle. As I read those books and more about him just a few weeks ago, I marveled at how much he continued to do at his age.

Image title is The Very Wonderful Eric Carle: A Tribute and shows a photo of a man - Eric Carle - with a book in his hand. In the background are overlaid illustrations of the very hungry green caterpillar coming out of a red heart

So as I mentioned earlier, my journey with the very wonderful world of Eric Carle’s books and art began with motherhood. And what a delightful journey it has been since. It continues as my firstborn heads off to college in a few months; for I still enjoy Carle’s books by myself and know I will read them for years to come (someday to my grandkids)

Thank You Eric Carle…

The Very Wonderful Eric Carle

Eric Carle was one of those authors who captured the imaginations and hearts of everyone; from the littlest ones all around the world to adults. And his Very Series are among his most beloved books with ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ right up at the top.

Before it All Began

Eric Carle literally rose from nothing; or rather $40 in his pockets when he arrived in the US looking for a job. This was his return to the States as he had lived here until the age of six. His parents decided to move back at the time as his mom was homesick. With the second World War, things changed for his family in Germany; and his dad returned home after the war ‘a broken man’.

Eric Carle’s return to the States started off with a job as a graphic designer at the New York Times. After a stint in the US army as a mail clerk in Germany during the Korean War, he returned to his job at the Times. He moved on to become the director of an ad agency.

The Very Beginning

His illustrating career started with Bill Martin’s request to illustrate his now famous book ‘Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?’ thus launching Eric Carle’s true vocation in life!

Eric Carle’s art stands on its own – instantly recognizable and unique. He created his work using the collage technique with hand-painted papers which he cut, and layered later to form the bright colorful images that we know from his books. Additional details add coolness factors to his books; like the holes in The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and the appearance of twinkling lights in The Very Lonely Firefly.

He talked about the idea of ‘visual pollution’ in an interview where he said:

Whether it’s a coffee cup, or a poster, or a book illustration, or a typeface, it has to be designed in such a way that it is not trashy, and doesn’t pollute your eye. We have so much pollution out in the air. Our eyes are being polluted. We have visual pollution out there, and I have a very strong sense about that.’

And that attitude reflected in his beautiful artwork which are always wonderful to behold!

Eric Carle truly said so much with so little and that was his genius indeed!

The Very Series

Here are books from his ‘Very Series’ starting with, well ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’!

1969, The Very Hungry Caterpillar . This book  has been described as having sold the equivalent of a copy per minute since its publication!!! Looks like its fans are very hungry for it indeed! 🙂 This was the first book that I read as well, for myself, and to my kids years ago.

Some other books in the series include the below:

1972, The Very Long Tail
1984, The Very Busy Spider
1990, The Very Quiet Cricket
1995, The Very Lonely Firefly
1999, The Very Clumsy Click Beetle
2015, The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Christmas 1 2 3

And in time for Father’s Day, this 2018 release of the Hungry Caterpillar

2018, I Love Dad with The Very Hungry Caterpillar (The World of Eric Carle) 


Create your own book using his technique by:

  • looking at the slideshow from Carle himself here
  • or using the instructions provided here

For more activities based on his books, check out Teaching Mama’s The Ultimate List of Eric Carle Activities.

You can listen to Eric Carle reading his beloved book in the video below

[May 2021 Update: This post was originally written towards ABC Wednesday‘s round 22 – letter V – where my theme was children’s books – one popular (and sometimes the not so popular/the unknown) book – classic/modern/old/new… – and write about it – be it a backstory or facts or something else completely]

And Now, the End of This Post

Dear reader, I am sure most of you have read Eric Carle’s books at one time or the other in your lives. I would love to hear your favorite Eric Carle moment or book. And if you wish, you can leave your message for the family on their guestbook over at EricCarleArt.

27 thoughts on “The Very Wonderful Eric Carle: A Tribute

  1. Aww I loved these books so much when I was a little girl. I picked up a copy of The Very Hubgry Caterpillar when my sons were very tiny to share with them.

  2. Such a talented man! The Very Hungry Caterpillar has been read by all my grandchildren, Alex still has a copy and will be sharing it with Lia! Since she loves caterpillars, it will be right up her alley!

  3. I’ve heard of his passing just this morning. I honestly didn’t know much of his work before that so I was surprised to find out that he is the author behind The Hungry Caterpillar.

  4. A lovely tribute. Eric Carle was the author of some delightful books. I remember The Very Hungry Caterpillar from when I was young and then again reading it with my own kids.

  5. I’ve spent many a day as a child and as a parent reading ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’. I adored the book and although I knew of his other books I don’t ever remember reading them. Lovely and beautiful tribute post.

  6. Eric Carle was an amazing author and illustrator of memorable and formative children’s books. He will be missed but his legacy will live on every time a child discovers his colorful illustrations for the first time. I love all of his books but I absolutely adore The Very Hungry Caterpillar and his collaborations with Bill Martin, Jr.

  7. This is a wonderful tribute to Carle’s life! I had no idea that he started off with so little money, and I love his ideas about “visual pollution” as well. Thanks for the great post!

  8. The Very Hungry Caterpillar was a staple in my childhood and has been a staple in my son’s reading adventures, as well. You’re right that Eric Carle’s art style is easily recognizable. I didn’t know there were more books in the Caterpillar series. Now I have some book shopping to do 🙂 Great tribute!!

  9. Those looked quite interesting books to read. I should check them out real soon. I have read the Very Hungry caterpillar because that’s my son’s favorite book to read.

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