Monday, January 24

Children’s authors on Eric Carle: ‘He created readers as voracious as that caterpillar’ | Books

The late Eric Carle has been acclaimed by other children’s writers for creating generations of readers as voracious as his most beloved creation, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Carle, who died Sunday at the age of 91, left titles including his best-selling board book in the world, about a caterpillar that makes its way through a week’s food before turning into a butterfly, as well as The Very Busy Spider, The Chameleon and Papa mixed together, please bring me the moon.

“Picture books are a child’s first art gallery, and Eric Carle, perhaps more than anyone, made the world aware of picture books as an exciting art form,” said Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo. and former children’s laureate. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a very smart book. In addition to the tactile element (all those holes!), It combines colors, counting and days of the week, and also manages to teach kids about insect development, all of that in addition to being beautiful and fun. It is sure to remain a classic. “

Chris Riddell, the children’s author and illustrator, praised the “deceptively simple beauty” of Carle’s drawings and the way her wallpaper collage technique connected with children. Carle’s signature style came from glossy tissue paper, dotted and smeared with acrylic paint, which was then cut with a knife and pasted onto white cardboard to form eye-catching designs.

“Perhaps his greatest achievement, also wonderfully simple, was introducing his readers at a young age to the idea of ​​the book as an object, adding holes to the pages of The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” said Riddell. “It created readers as voracious as that caterpillar and gave them wings.”

Chris Riddell on Eric Carle
Chris Riddell on Eric Carle. Photography: Chris Riddell

How to Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell, the current UK children’s laureate, said: “Writing picture books for little ones is like writing haikus for aliens, harder than it sounds … The Very Hungry Caterpillar effortlessly combines counting, days of the week, and a child’s favorite theme, food, along with gloriously simplistic and vibrant illustrations by Eric Carle. It’s no wonder it has such a timeless appeal. “

Anthony Browne, author of classic children’s picture books including Gorilla, said he was shocked when he first read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, while in a graphic design course in Leeds.

“It was a simple and logical story for young children that seemed to break down all the barriers about what a book could be. Here was a magnificent work of art, beautiful colors and, in many ways, an object closer to sculpture than to literature, ”said Browne. “It is so tactile and I have never met a child who does not like to be involved in such a relationship between story and reader. It’s without a doubt one of the best and most influential children’s books ever made. “

Published in 1969, The Very Hungry Caterpillar has been translated into more than 60 languages ​​and has sold the equivalent of one copy per minute since it was published.

“I think that, like thousands of children around the world, The Very Hungry Caterpillar was the first book I fell in love with. A world of book lovers. Could there be a better legacy to leave the world than that? “said child author Emily Gravett.” It’s brilliant because despite its apparent simplicity, it manages to cover a lot of ground – hope, nutrition, consequences, life cycles, counting, days of the week, colors, biology – without being not even remotely preachy or give the impression of being educational. Also, kids can stick their fingers in the holes, which is pretty much what young children are programmed to do. “

Carle wrote and illustrated more than 40 children’s books, often on animals, insects, and nature, addressing topics from silent crickets to philosophical sloths. It was his father who introduced him to the natural world. Carle told the New York Times: “When I was a little boy, for as long as I can remember, he would hold my hand and we would go out into nature. And he showed me worms, bugs, bees and ants and explained their lives to me. “

Piers Torday, whose books include The Last Wild trilogy, said: “Carle’s great genius was, with just a few daring words and images, to present the seemingly everyday lives of animals as life-changing stories of hope that even the smallest child can understand. He established the natural world as a vivid wonder of brilliance and color from page one for so many lifetimes. There are millions of people who owe their first experience, their first love for the infinite diversity of our planet, with its sustainable powers of growth and renewal, to a 22-page board book. That is a remarkable legacy. “

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