I never read this book once, it was always twice. At least. And it often ended in tears.
This was my daughter's favourite book when she was a toddler and we read it to her every day. At least for twenty years, or so it feels. Today I heard of the death of its author, Eric Carle, which is very sad news. A little spooky too, as I was thinking about reviewing this book for no other reason than it caught my eye there on our bookshelf.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a very simple but clever story about - a hungry caterpillar. It starts where he hatches from his egg and looks for food. It is a brightly coloured board book with pages of different sizes and holes eaten out by the hungry caterpillar. To a small child it is mesmerising. We see the caterpillar grow bigger and follow his life cycle and the process is accurately portrayed in simple language. There are lots of foods illustrated from fruit to ice cream and it is a memory game to recount everything he eats during the week.
It was this huge list of foods that had this lovely book banned in the early 2000s. Libraries in Hertfordshire thought it was going against the government's healthy eating campaign. They need not of worried though. If they read through the book they would see that the caterpillar felt sick and felt better after he ate a green leaf. Thankfully, everyone has come to their senses now. The book has been reissued several times in board, paper, ebook, audio and DVD and I expect another publication will be on its way.
It is an educational book to help children count, read, speak, identify colours and items, and learn about diet (yes, okay), growth and change. More than this it is fun, encourages bonding and is the essence of childhood.
Thank you Eric Carle
Originally published by World Publishing Company on 3 June 1969, later published by Penguin Puffin on 29 September 1994.