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Eric Carle


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Eric Carle was born of German parents. He was always drawn to America after his family moved to Stuttgart when he was six. Carle’s childhood years in Germany were traumatic; as an adult he would make “books for the child in me, books I had longed for.” It is no surprise that his style is characterised by an explosive use of colour. During the war, his art teacher showed him his hidden collection of banned “degenerate” art, including works by Picasso, Klee and Matisse. At 16, Carle began studying graphic art at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Stuttgart. Returning to New York in 1952, Carle built a successful career in advertising. In the mid 1960s, Carle decided to give up this career to become an illustrator and graphic designer. His first published work appeared in a cookery book. Soon afterwards, children’s book author Bill Martin asked him to illustrate the manuscript of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? The resulting book was an instant hit. Encouraged by this success, Carle began submitting ideas for his own books. One of these was “Willie The Worm”. His editor suggested that a caterpillar might prove a more endearing character – the rest is history.

First published in 1969, The Very Hungry Caterpillar has sold over 29 million copies in more than 47 languages. Eric Carle has illustrated more than seventy books, and more than 88 million copies of his books have sold around the world.

Books by Eric Carle

Packs featuring Eric Carle

  • Eric Carle Pack x 4

    Eric Carle Pack x 4


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  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar x 6


    The Very Hungry Caterpillar x 6


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  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar x 30


    The Very Hungry Caterpillar x 30


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Awards won by Eric Carle

Eric Carle has won many book and design awards in both the US and around the world. His most famous book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar was awarded the American Institute of Graphics Arts Award, the Selection du Grand Prix des Treize in France and a Nakamori Reader’s Prize in Japan. In 2003 Carle was awarded the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for his lifetime contribution to children’s literature and illustration.

Eric Carle talks about his books

“Education is one element of my books. The success of my books, I think is also due to their emotional impact. Caterpillar, for instance, is a book of hope. It says that you too – an ugly, little thing – will open your wings and fly. Kids who are insecure and young identify with that.”

“Even as a small child I was curious about animals… This love of and curiosity about ants, beetles, salamanders, and worms had been awakened in me by my father. He’d take me on walks through meadows and woods, and explain, as we explored, the often peculiar life cycles of these small creatures that we had discovered underneath a rock or dead leaf. Afterward he carefully put the little animals back into their original places and covered them up again.”

“Thinking about a book, writing and illustrating, is like designing a house and laying the bricks. Designing the book or refining the idea is the hardest part and takes up most of my whole attention. Illustrating is the bricklaying. Less time goes into the actual pictures. I spent two years thinking about Do You Want To Be My Friend? And I finished all the illustrations in one weekend.”

“I create my own coloured tissue papers by painting white tissue papers in all kinds of colours and textures.”

“For me, leaving the warmth of home to go to school was traumatic. It occurs to me that I am still trying to make that first step from home to school easier… Some of my books have holes, cutouts, flaps to lift, or a raised, touchable surface. They are half toy (home) and half book (school).”