The Very Hungry Caterpillar
|The Very Hungry Caterpillar|
Front cover illustration
|Cover artist||Eric Carle|
|Genre(s)||Children's picture book|
Hamish Hamilton (UK)
|Publication date||June 3, 1969|
|Media type||hardcover, board book|
The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a children's picture book designed, illustrated and written by Eric Carle, first published by the World Publishing Company in 1969, later published by Penguin Putnam. The book follows a caterpillar as it eats its way through a wide variety of foodstuffs before pupating and emerging as a butterfly. The winner of many children's literature awards and a major graphic design award, it has sold 30 million copies worldwide. It has been described as having sold the equivalent of a copy per minute since its publication. It features distinctive collage illustrations (Carle's third book, and a new style at the time), 'eaten' holes in the pages and simple text with educational themes – counting, the days of the week, foods, and a butterfly's life stages. There have been a large number of related books and other products, including educational tools, created in connection to the book. Whilst the caterpillar's diet is fictional, rather than scientifically accurate, The Very Hungry Caterpillar introduces concepts of Lepidoptera life stages where transformations take place including the ultimate metamorphosis from 'hungry caterpillar' to 'beautiful butterfly', and the book has been endorsed by the Royal Entomological Society. It has been described as "one of the greatest childhood classics of all time."
A green baby caterpillar hatches from an egg, and from birth he experiences a humongous and perpetual craving for food. He consumes enormous quantities of many types of foods until inadvertently nauseating himself, so he spins a cocoon in which he remains for the following two weeks. Later, the caterpillar emerges as a bright, colorful butterfly with large, gorgeous, multi-colored wings.
- 1 apple
- 2 pear
- 3 plums
- 4 strawberries
- 5 oranges
- 1 piece of chocolate cake
- 1 ice cream cone
- 1 pickle
- 1 slice of Swiss cheese
- 1 slice of peperoni
- 1 lollipop
- 1 piece of cherry pie
- 1 sausage
- 1 cupcake
- 1 slice of watermellon
The original title of the book was to have been A Week with Willi Worm, featuring a bookworm named Willi. However, Carle's editor advised that a green worm would not make a very likable protagonist.
The book was inspired by a hole puncher:
"One day I was punching holes with a hole puncher into a stack of paper, and I thought of a bookworm and so I created a story called 'A Week with Willi the Worm'. Then my editor suggested a caterpillar instead and I said 'Butterfly!' That's how it began," said Carle.
Awards and accolades 
The book has won numerous awards, including an American Institute of Graphic Arts Award in 1970, the Selection du Grand Prix des Treize in France in 1972, and the Nakamori Reader's Prize in Japan in 1975.
The New York Times cited it as one of the "Ten Best Picture Books of the Year" in 1969. The book placed at number 199 in the Big Read, a 2003 poll conducted by the BBC to determine the United Kingdom's best loved books. It was one of the few picture books to place on the list. Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association named the book one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children." It was one of the "Top 100 Picture Books" of all time in a 2012 poll by School Library Journal.
Educational and cultural influence 
The book has been translated into at least 40 languages, including French, Spanish, Chinese and Russian. It has been used by elementary school teachers, librarians, and parents, as a teaching aid, with activities developed which use the book It was used by President George W. Bush when reading to children during his presidential campaigns, as well as by his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, as part of her campaign to promote literacy.
It was adapted for television in 1993 by the UK based Illuminated Film Company as part of an anthology called The World of Eric Carle that included four other Carle stories: The Very Quiet Cricket, The Mixed Up Chameleon, Papa, Please Get The Moon For Me and I See A Song. Narration on the DVD release of the programme, entitled The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Stories, was performed by Roger McGough and Juliet Stevenson, while in the U.S. version, distributed by Disney, narration was by Brian Cummings and Linda Gary. Subsequent to that adaptation, the film and TV rights were sold for £1 million.[dubious ]
Ancillary products 
There have been numerous different editions of the book, with various additional features, as well as games incorporating copies of the book. Examples include a pop-up version and a book/card game combination from University Games. Other toys and educational resources based upon or featuring The Very Hungry Caterpillar are also plentiful.
In Popular Culture 
- The book is referenced in a famous parody song, "The Reading Rainbow" performed by Jimmy Fallon.
- In one episode of MAD called "Fast Hive", Tigger and Piglet fly out of the Winnie the Pooh book and end up in this book, where the Very Hungry Caterpillar gives them some honey.
- In one episode of Dexter, his son is said to have read The Very Hungry Caterpillar with his nanny.
- In one episode of Skins, Chris Miles tells Jal the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and adds that he often read the story after his brother's death.
- In one episode of Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson finishes a lap and reads this book before Richard Hammond finishes a lap
- The book is mentioned by Goss, a villain from China Miéville's 2010 novel Kraken (as a typical example of children's literature).
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar made a cameo in the "Book People Unite" commercial towards the end in the crowd of literary characters.
- 100 Best Books for Children, Anita Silvey, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004, ISBN 978-0-618-27889-3
- "Eric Carle collection". University Libraries – Information courtesy of the Gale Group. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
- Brockes, Emma (14 March 2009). "This one's got legs". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
- Taylor, Kate (22 October 2004). "Eat your heart out". The Guardian (London).
- Kate Taylor (22 October 2004). Eat your heart out. The Guardian.
- "Hungry Caterpillar author on zoo maths". Metro.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
- Khan, Urmee (20 March 2009). "Google celebrates Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- "The Big Read". BBC. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
- National Education Association (2007). "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". Retrieved 2012-08-22.
- Bird, Elizabeth (2012-07-06). "Top 100 Picture Books Poll Results". School Library Journal "A Fuse #8 Production" blog. Retrieved 2012-08-22.
- Accredited Language Services
- The librarian's complete guide to involving parents through children's literature, Anthony D. Fredericks, Libraries Unlimited, 1997. ISBN 1-56308-538-0 p. 93
- Teaching Terrific Fours, Analynn Jones, Carol Crownover, Elizabeth Jones. Humanics Learning, 2006. ISBN 0-89334-419-2 p. 92
- Google. Google. 20 March 2009.
- "Groups Hope "Hungry Caterpillar" Helps Fight Fat". ABC News website. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other stories. Walt Disney Productions. December 31, 1995.
- Dominic Casciani (26 July 2005). Counting on the Caterpillar. BBC.
- "Caterpillar" publications at Penguin Putnam website
- Games, University (2007-01-30). The Very Hungry Caterpillar Spinner: Book and Card Game. ISBN 978-1-57528-890-1.