Eric Carle, who wrote and illustrated the classic children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar and was behind dozens of others including Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, has died He was 91. His family said Carle died Sunday at this studio in Northampton, MA.
Carle authored and/or drew more than 70 children’s books during his career but is best known for the colorful and charming The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Published in 1969, it features holes in the pages where the titular critter appeared to have “eaten” through them. Written by he picture book was adapted for the 1993 UK TV movie The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Stories, which also featured Carle’s tales Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me, The Very Quiet Cricket, The Mixed-Up Chameleon and I See a Song.
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His breakout book was Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, the 1967 bestseller penned by Bill Martin Jr. and featuring Carle’s angular artwork. With characters including a brown bear, a yellow duck, several other colorful animals and some humans, it helped parents teach their young ones about color and shapes. Brown Bear spawned three spinoff titles decades later: Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? (1991), Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? (2003) and Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? (2007).
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Among his many accolades, Carle received the American Library Association’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal in 2003. Since renamed as the Children’s Literature Legacy Award, it honors children’s book writers and illustrators who have indelible contributions to the children’s literature.
Born on June 25, 1929, in Syracuse, NY, Carle moved with his family back to their native Germany in 1935. After some harrowing times during World War II, he would return to the U.S. in the early 1950s, landing a job as a graphic designer for The New York Times. Carle would return to that gig after serving in the Army during the Korean War, and later worked at an ad agency. While there, he drew a lobster that was noticed by Martin, who asked Carle to illustrate Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
He soon began to write children’s books as well.
His works were displayed in a 2019 exhibition called “Eric Carle’s Picture Books: 50 Years of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’,” which was shown as multiple museums.
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