The Definitive Guide to

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Written and illustrated by Eric Carle
Published by Philomel
- Bookroo Rating
Goodreads Rating - 4.3 / 5.0
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What's This Book About

Publisher Summary

Follows the progress of a hungry little caterpillar as he eats his way through a varied and very large quantity of food until, full at last, he forms a cocoon around himself and goes to sleep. Die-cut pages illustrate what the caterpillar ate on successive days.

What Kind of Book is The Very Hungry Caterpillar

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Trusted Reviews & Ratings

Readerly Mom
Bay Area mother of two, world traveler, book lover, picky reader

It’s a classic for a reason! This was the first book my first baby showed a clear preference for - I think it’s something about the bright colors and big shapes on a plain white background. Regardless, it’s one we read, have read, and will read over and over again!

Book Lists That Include The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Book Topics › Age newborn
Children's Books About Age Newborn
Book Topics › bugs and insects
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Who Wrote The Very Hungry Caterpillar

author & illustrator
Eric Carle

Eric Carle is acclaimed and beloved as the creator of brilliantly illustrated and innovatively designed picture books for very young children. He is best known for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, From Head to Toe, and The Grouchy Ladybug. Eric Carle has illustrated more than seventy books, many bestsellers, most of which he also wrote. He has two grown-up children, a son and a daughter, and divides his time between the Florida Keys and the hills of North Carolina. Mr. Carle opened the celebrated Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Northampton, MA, to feature both his work and that of other esteemed children’s book artists.

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What Has Eric Carle Said About This Book

  • What is The Very Hungry Caterpillar about?

    “I think it is a book of hope. Children need hope. You, little insignificant caterpillar, can grow up into a beautiful butterfly and fly into the world with your talent. Will I ever be able to do that? Yes, you will. I think that is the appeal of that book.”
  • Where did you get the idea for The Very Hungry Caterpillar?

    “I wasn’t thinking of books or anything like that. I didn’t have anything to do, so I took a stack of paper and a hole-punch and I playfully punched holes … then I looked at them. Straight away I thought of a book worm.”

    “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.”,
  • Were you surprised by the popularity The Very Hungry Caterpillar gained?

    “It was bread and butter to me” he says, “It paid my rent. I truly didn’t think of lasting success or anything like that. I mean, it’s just a book.”

Trivia to Know About This Book

  • How many copies of The Very Hungry Caterpillar have been sold?

    Around 50 million copies have been sold. On average, someone in the world purchases a copy every 30 seconds.
  • Which President of the United States loved to read this book when visiting schools?

    Former President George W. Bush would even have his advance team clear books teachers set out for him so he could read The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
  • When was The Very Hungry Caterpillar first published?

    March 20, 1969 by World Publishing Company.
  • How many languages has The Very Hungry Caterpillar been translated into?

  • Has The Very Hungry Caterpillar been adapted into other media?

    A television show of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, as well as other stories by Carle, was released in 1993. Though Carle did describe the show as “awful.”

    A video-game adaption was released in 2010 and focused on language skills (rather than counting, like the book).

    There are also a few different The Very Hungry Caterpillar song adaptations, one from Learning Station and one from Mr. Teach on YouTube.

What Do Critics Say About This Book

  • Ted Dewan

    “The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of the pillars of children’s culture,” says Ted Dewan. “It’s almost like talking about how great the Beatles were. It’s beyond reproach.”

    Read full review >>
  • Publishers Weekly

    “While the prominent use of white space lends a sparser feel than in the picture book, the shimmering wings of the pop-up butterfly dazzle…”

    Read full review >>
  • Book Trust

    Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar deserves its reputation as a much-loved classic. Full of bright and imaginative illustrations and ingenious cut-out details, it charts the progress of a very hungry caterpillar as he eats his way through the week.

    The pictures readily engage children’s attention and involve them in the reading process, while helping them learn about numbers, days of the week and time. This is a fantastic book for pre-school children, who are sure to demand it time and time again.

    Read full review >>

Did This Book Win Any Awards

You bet it did. Check them out below!

  • 1969 New York Times Ten Best Picture Books of the Year
  • 1970 American Institute of Graphic Arts Award
  • 2003 BBC's Big Read Top 200 Favourite Books - Finalist
  • 2007 The National Education Association Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children
  • 2012 School Library Journal Best Books of the Year
What did the caterpillar become?
  1. Moth
  2. Butterfly
  3. Bird
  4. Praying Mantiss
Take the Full Quiz!

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Book Details

ISBN 10:
ISBN 13:
Publication Date:
October 15, 1981