Saturday, 26 April 2014

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Author                                  : Eric Carle
Illustrated by                          : Eric Carle
Age range recommended : Under 5s (if you ask us, it goes from new-born to old age!)
Theme                                  : Colours, Numbers, Days of the week, Food, Nature, Life (This one has it all!)

Opening lines –  
In the light of the moon, a little egg lay on a leaf. One Sunday morning the warm sun came up and – pop! – out of the egg came a tiny and very hungry caterpillar.

Introduction and Synopsis –
The book is the most famous work of Eric Carle, and the most loved as well. The book is simple in its story. It follows the journey of a caterpillar from birth to its metamorphosis into a butterfly. It talks about food habits and the time taken by the caterpillar on its journey to becoming a butterfly. 

Why did my caterpillar and I like this book?

ME -
I have to say – I have a lot of respect for this author and all his works. His ideas are so simple yet his story telling is magical. In many ways, this is story is just that – magical. The author presents the natural phenomenon of metamorphosis in a way that is likeable and understood by little children. I picked this book at a book store where I had entered to kill some free time when I had not even heard about it. Little did I know my baby and I would be so captivated by it.

As said earlier, the story takes us through the entire life cycle of a butterfly. A very tiny caterpillar is born out of its egg, is ravenous and starts eating  immediately. It eats everything that it can find and one day has so much of junk food that it ends up with a tummy ache. It becomes a fat caterpillar and builds a cocoon for itself. After two weeks, it pushes its way out of the cocoon and flies out as a beautiful butterfly!

Eric Carle's trademark illustrations, his deft brushstrokes of acrylic, are very colourful and eye-catching. The book is formatted very cleverly to accommodate fingers of tiny children and amuse them. Toddlers can indulge in some counting; day one to five, the caterpillar eats a whole bunch of wholesome fruits - one red apple, two green pears, three purple plums, four strawberries, five plums. [It amuses me to think what foods would Eric Carle have chosen if he were to write the book today ;-) LoL! ]  The book also talks about the days of the week. And in the storyline is woven the science of metamorphosis.

It opens up avenues for a lot of discussion with your little one – healthy and junk foods, why does a caterpillar eat so much, how does a caterpillar weave his cocoon and so on. You learn the story of life’s ups and downs and its big surprises - a very fundamental lesson to live by. Transformation is a part of life. In many ways, I'd also say its like a fairy tale; a boring, tiny caterpillar lives patiently to find itself transformed into a beautiful butterfly. Only, this one is scientifically true.  You would want to tell your little one - we are all beautiful if we allow ourselves to be. 


It is among her all-time favourite books. Like every little child, she was mesmerised with the grand transformation. She loves the drawings and can now recognise Eric Carle books with  his trademark illustrations. She calls him 'The caterpillar storywriter'. :-)

She learnt healthy foods keep you well and junk food, especially too much of it, will make you unhealthy. She knows all the lines in the book by heart. We have a tiny board book version but she still hasn't tired out of it; it regularly keeps surfacing in our readings. I guess some books are like that; they never stop making you smile from within.

We actually got an opportunity to visit an exhibition of butterflies at the Natural History Museum sometime back. We learnt and saw everything from caterpillar eggs to chrysalis' to different species of butterflies brought in from all around the world. You can read my post about it on my mommy blog, Amma Knows Best.

Online link -
We found this link online which has the author reading out his story from a book – enjoy!

The book is extremely popular even today though it was first published way back in 1969. It has won many popular literature awards and many different versions of the book, toys, and educational resources have been made. In fact, Google honoured the book with a special doodle on the 40th anniversary of the book in 2009. This is what it looked like –

The cocoon rates it -


I wish I could rate it higher than 100%. It totally belongs in that league. We would recommend it to even little kids, maybe over 6 months. It will stay in their hearts for a long time to come. This is a keep sake. An absolute necessity in your private collection. In fact, the name of our blog has been inspired by this book. :-) 

1 comment:

  1. You know,baby A enjoyed this book since she could start focussing. Obviously she knew nothing about the story, but the pictures and colours really caught her attention.