The Very Hungry Caterpillar
by Eric Carle

Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Children's book review by Steve Barancik

Ages 0-3

A best selling board in many forms

Look at the text, and you'll think Eric Carle wrote a very simple books. But then you look at the numbers...

  • 225 words
  • 40 years in print
  • multiple editions
  • 30 million copies sold
  • an extensive product line of V.H.C. products
  • 368,000 people per month Google very hungry caterpillar

Then you realize Eric Carle tapped into something major.

Inspired by a hole puncher

Carle starts with a tiny egg on a leaf in the light of the moon. Come morning, out pops a caterpillar.

A very hungry caterpillar.

On day one of his life, he eats through an apple. (That's where the hole punch comes in. We see an apple with a hole in it, then turn the page and see the caterpillar crawling out.)

Day two, he eats through two pears. Day three, he eats through three plums.

Etc. (The days of the week are actually named, so this is a book that teaches basic counting and the days of the week as well.)

On Saturday, our little green friend apparently finds himself in a convenience store. He manages to eat his way through a pickle, an ice cream cone, a sausage, a pie, and assorted other processed delicacies.

On Sunday, he eats through a leaf to settle his stomach. Then he builds a cocoon.

When he pops out, he's a beautiful...well, I don't want to give anything away.


The point is that this book has now captivated tens of millions of lap-sitters and shows no signs of slowing down. Just to keep himself interested as he meets the demand of edition after edition, Mr. Carle has redone his trademark painted tissue paper collages at least two times since the original.

These days you can find Very Hungry Caterpillar in

(Page down on most of these links to Amazon and you'll be treated to a video of Eric Carle. You and your kids will get to see how he does the illustrations!) Review continues.

caterpillar and apple, eric carle

Still more versions of the caterpillar.

The truth is, books hold no inherent charm for babies - they need more than incomprehensible words on a page to keep them interested - and that's where Eric Carle's magic comes in. He makes baby books interesting.

More best selling children's books of the 20th century.

Read more of Steve's reviews.

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