Eric Carle

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Eric Carle
Born (1929-06-25) June 25, 1929 (age 86)
Syracuse, New York, U.S.
Occupation Illustrator, writer
Nationality American
Alma mater
Period 1966–present
Genre Children's picture books
Notable works
Notable awards Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal
Spouse Barbara Morrison
Children 2

Eric Carle (born June 25, 1929) is an American designer, illustrator, and writer of children's books. He is most famous for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a picture book with few words that has been translated into more than 62 languages and sold more than 41 million copies. Since it was published in 1969 he has illustrated more than 70 books, most of which he also wrote, and more than 132 million copies of his books have been sold around the world.[1] He won the biennial Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for his career contribution to American children's literature in 2003.[2][3] For his contribution as a children's illustrator Carle was U.S. nominee for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2010.[4]

Early life[edit]

Eric Carle was born in 1929 to Erich and Johanna Carle in Syracuse, New York. When he was six years old, his mother, homesick for Germany, led the family back to Stuttgart. He was educated there and graduated from the local art school (ABK-Stuttgart in German Wikipedia). Eric's father was drafted into the German army at the beginning of World War II (1939) and taken prisoner by the Soviet forces when Germany capitulated early in 1945 (the end of the war). He returned home late in 1947 weighing 85 pounds. "When he came back, he was a broken man," Carle told The Guardian years later. He was a "sick man, psychologically, physically devastated." Eric had been sent to the small town of Schwenningen to escape the bombings of Stuttgart.[5] When he was 15 the German government conscripted boys of that age to dig trenches on the Siegfried line. He doesn't care to think about it deeply and says his wife thinks he suffers from post-traumatic stress. "You know about the Siegfried line? To dig trenches. And the first day three people were killed a few feet away. None of us children -- Russian prisoners and other conscripted workers. The nurses came and started crying. And in Stuttgart, our home town, our house was the only one standing. When I say standing, I mean the roof and windows are gone, and the doors. And, well, there you are."[6] Always homesick for America, Eric dreamed of returning one day and moved to New York City in 1952 with only $40. There he landed a job as graphic designer in the promotion department of The New York Times. He was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War and stationed in Germany[7] with the Second Armored Division as a mail clerk.[5] After discharge he returned to his old job with The New York Times. Later he became the art director of an advertising agency.

Writing and illustrating career[edit]

Educator and author Bill Martin, Jr. noticed the illustration was right off a red lobster Carle had created for an advertisement and asked him to collaborate on a picture book. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? was published by Henry Holt & Co. in 1967 and became a best-seller. This began Carle's true career; soon he was writing and illustrating his own stories. His first books as both author and illustrator were 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo and The Very Hungry Caterpillar (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1969).


Eric Carle's art is distinctive and instantly recognizable. His art work is created in collage technique, using hand-painted papers, which he cuts and layers to form bright and colorful images. Many of his books have an added dimension—die-cut pages, twinkling lights as in The Very Lonely Firefly, even the lifelike sound of a cricket’s song as in The Very Quiet Cricket.

The themes of his stories are usually drawn from his extensive knowledge and love of nature— an interest shared by most small children. Carle attempts to make his books not only entertaining, but also to offer his readers the opportunity to learn something about the world around them. When writing, Carle attempts to recognize children's feelings, inquisitiveness and creativity, as well as stimulate their intellectual growth; it is for these reasons (in addition to his unique artwork) that many feel his books have been such a success.

In his own words:[8]

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.

Later life[edit]

Eric Carle has a son and a daughter. He currently divides his time between the Florida Keys and the Hills of North Carolina. For over 30 years, Carle and his second wife, Barbara Morrison, lived in Northampton, Massachusetts.[7]

With his wife, Eric Carle founded The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, a 44,000 sq ft (4,100 m2) museum devoted to the art of children's books in Amherst located adjacent to Hampshire College as part of the Hampshire College Cultural Village. The Museum has welcomed more than 500,000 visitors, including more than 30,000 school children, since it opened its doors in 2002.

Eric Carle has received numerous honorary degrees from colleges and universities including Smith College in 2014, Appalachian State University in 2013 and from Bates College in 2007.[9]

Google paid tribute to Carle and his book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by asking him to design the logo "Google doodle", introduced on its home page on March 20, 2009, celebrating the first day of spring. He also designed a "Google doodle" with autumnal theme for the use in Southern Hemisphere.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar was chosen by Jumpstart for Young Children as the book for Read For the Record 2009 on October 8 of that year. The program encourages educators, librarians and parents to try to have as many as possible read the same book on the same day all over the world.

Carle has won numerous awards for his work in children's literature[clarification needed] and most for his collages, all from 1989 to 2008.[clarification needed] In 2003 he received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the professional children's librarians, which recognizes a living author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made "a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children".[2] The committee cited his "visual observations of the natural world" and his innovative designs: "Taking the medium of collage to a new level, Carle creates books using luminous colors and playful designs often incorporating an interactive dimension, tactile or auditory discoveries, die-cut pages, foldouts, and other innovative uses of page space."[3]

In a 2012 survey of School Library Journal readers, The Very Hungry Caterpillar was voted the number two children's picture book behind Where the Wild Things Are.[10][11]


1965, Aesop's Fables for Modern Readers (Peter Pauper Press) (illustrator)
1965, Nature Thoughts: A Selection (Peter Pauper Press) (illustrator)
1966, On Friendship: A Selection (Peter Pauper Press) (illustrator)
1967, Flower Thoughts: A Selection (Peter Pauper Press) (illustrator)
1967, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (illustrator)
1968, 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo
1969, The Very Hungry Caterpillar
1970, Pancakes, Pancakes!
1970, The Tiny Seed
1970, Tales of the Nincompoop (illustrator)
1970, The Boastful Fisherman (illustrator)
1971, Feathered Ones and Furry (illustrator)
1971, The Scarecrow Clock (illustrator)
1971, Do You Want to Be My Friend?
1972, Rooster’s Off to See the World
1972, The Very Long Tail
1972, The Secret Birthday Message
1972, Walter the Baker
1973, Do Bears Have Mothers Too? (illustrator)
1973, Have You Seen My Cat?
1973, I See a Song, 1973

1974, Split-page book collection:

My Very First Book of Numbers
My Very First Book of Colors
My Very First Book of Shapes
My Very First Book of Words

1974, Why Noah Chose the Dove (illustrator)
1974, All About Arthur
1975, The Hole in the Dike (illustrator)
1975, The Mixed-Up Chameleon
1976, Eric Carle’s Storybook, Seven Tales by the Brothers Grimm
1977, The Grouchy Ladybug
1978, Watch Out! A Giant!
1978, Seven Stories by Hans Christian Andersen (sequel to Seven Tales by the Brothers Grimm)
1980, Twelve Tales from Aesop
1981, The Honeybee and the Robber
1982, Otter Nonsense (illustrator)
1982, Catch the Ball!
1982, What's for Lunch
1983, Chip Has Many Brothers (illustrator)
1984, The Very Busy Spider
1985, The Foolish Tortoise (illustrator)
1985, The Greedy Python (illustrator, companion to The Foolish Tortoise)
1985, The Mountain that Loved a Bird (illustrator)
1986, All Around Us
1986, Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me

1986, Group of small-format books:

My Very First Book of Sounds
My Very First Book of Food
My Very First Book of Tools
My Very First Book of Touch
My Very First Book of Motion
My Very First Book of Growth
My Very First Book of Homes
My Very First Book of Heads

1986, All in a Day (Mitsumasa Anno editor)
1987, A House for Hermit Crab
1988, The Lamb and the Butterfly (illustrator)

1988, Eric Carle’s Treasury of Classic Stories for Children
1989, Animals Animals (illustrator)
1990, The Very Quiet Cricket
1991, Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? (illustrator)
1991, Dragons Dragons (illustrator)
1992, Draw Me a Star
1993, Today Is Monday
1994, My Apron
1995, The Very Lonely Firefly
1996, Little Cloud
1997, From Head to Toe
1997, Flora and Tiger: 19 very short stories from my life
1998, Hello, Red Fox
1998, You Can Make a Collage: A Very Simple How-to Book
1999, The Very Clumsy Click Beetle
2000, Does A Kangaroo Have A Mother, Too?
2000, Dream Snow
2002, “Slowly, Slowly, Slowly,” said the Sloth
2003, Where Are You Going? To See My Friend! (with Kazuo Iwamura)
2003, Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? (illustrator)
2004, Mister Seahorse
2005, 10 Little Rubber Ducks
2006, My Very First Book of Numbers
2007, Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? (illustrator)
2008, The Rabbit and the Turtle
2009, Google Logo Design (illustrator)
2009, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Pop-Up Edition (40th Anniversary Tribute Book)
2011, The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse
2013, Friends"
2014, What's Your Favorite Animal?

See also[edit]


  1. ^ data supplied by the business office of Eric Carle Studio, Oct 2013
  2. ^ a b "Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, Past winners". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). American Library Association (ALA).
      "About the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award". ALSC. ALA. Retrieved 2013-03-09.
  3. ^ a b "Laura Ingalls Wilder Award Winner, 2003". ALSC. ALA. 2003. Archived from the original on 2004-02-16. Retrieved 2013-06-10. 
  4. ^ "2010 HCA Winners and Finalists". International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY).
      "Hans Christian Andersen Awards". IBBY. Retrieved 2013-07-22.
  5. ^ a b Carle, Eric (1996). The Art of Eric Carle. New York, NY: Philomel Books. ISBN 0-399-24600-2. 
  6. ^ Brockes, Emma (March 14, 2009). "This one's got legs". The Guardian. 
  7. ^ a b Bernstein, Fred A. (December 13, 2007). "Hungry Caterpillar in the Florida Keys". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ "Biographical Notes for Eric Carle". The Official Eric Carle Web Site.
  9. ^ NISSY"Eric Carle". Bates College. Retrieved 2009-02-02. 
  10. ^ Bird, Elizabeth (June 28, 2012). "Top 100 Picture Books #2: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle". A Fuse 8 Production. Retrieved 2013-06-19.
  11. ^ "SLJ's Top 100 Picture Books" (poster presentation of reader poll results). A Fuse #8 Production. School Library Journal. 2012. Retrieved 2013-06-19.

External links[edit]