The Very Hungry Caterpillar
In 1969, Eric Carle was working with a simple, handheld hole puncher while organizing his office. Inadvertently, he punched through two pieces of paper at the same time, prompting the brainchild we now know as The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Originally, the caterpillar (and the book) was named Willie the Worm, but Carle’s editor helped him see that a worm wouldn’t be a very lovable protagonist (Thank God for editors.) Although it took him a long time to find a publisher willing to take on such a sizable production, he did eventually find someone who saw the potential in his work and in his unorthodox style.
Here we are, forty-six years later celebrating the anniversary of what is considered to be a classic in children’s literature. It is estimated that there is a copy of this book sold every minute of every day, 365 days a year. Don’t you just know those publishers who initially turned down Carle’s book are kicking themselves now!
Believe it or not, the multitude of publishers who turned him down were concerned that no one would want a book with such irregular pages in them, nor were they sure about the art of collage being a style of illustration children could relate to.
Boy were they wrong.
Not only do the books sell like crazy, but Very Hungry Caterpillar themed products, including children’s furniture and caterpillar clothing are also a part of the charm (and marketing bonanza) that go along with Carle’s book.
Recently, my twin six-year-olds and I used The Very Hungry Caterpillar to talk about healthy eating habits. Think about it, in the story, the caterpillar only eats fruit in the beginning. But then his wayward hunger and desire to binge eat takes over and before you know it, he’s eating everything from chocolate cake and pickles, to lollipops and salami, (boy can I relate to that).
We used the story to discuss how occasionally having a treat is okay, but how if we just eat anything and everything, we feel yucky on the inside and the outside. We also made notice of the fact that in the end, he returned to eating fresh fruits and veggies, took a good long nap, and awakened a beautiful butterfly. As a mom, you should always work in the importance of a good nap. (wink)
So this year, in honor of Eric Carle’s masterpiece anniversary, we are going to read the story, have a healthy picnic and take a good long nap. Who knows, maybe we’ll all wake up as beautiful butterflies too. A girl can hope.
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