Chris Mills's Reviews > The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
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Sep 13, 12


The Very Hungry Caterpillar is in children’s books terms, a classic. The short and simple story has sold more than 33 million copies and has been translated into more than 50 languages. The popular picture book story tells the tale of a very small and very hungry caterpillar that sets out on a quest to eat through different foods until his hunger is satisfied. Once full, the caterpillar weaves a cocoon around himself before transforming into a beautiful butterfly two weeks later. The colourful illustrations of various fruits and foods as well as the appealing little holes in the foods the caterpillar has eaten make this book such a popular hit for young children.

As well as the memorable appeal to place holes in the caterpillars food -as a kind of interactive addition to the book- and the way that the pages for the first five days are different sizes to correspond with the number of pieces of food the caterpillar eats, the striking and colourful collage illustrations are what I like most of all. Carle used hand-painted papers, which he cut, layered and shaped to create his colourful artwork capable of engaging even the youngest child. The double-page picture of the butterfly at the end of the book is a particular explosion of colour and serves as a vibrant celebration of the beauty of nature.

Although short and simple The Very Hungry Caterpillar is full of learning opportunities from days of the week, to counting, to transformation, and although the book has become a favourite throughout age ranges the book is best served with the early year’s group and younger readers. The simple words are easy enough for a small child to understand the story line and for a beginning reader or English Language Learner to get through with little difficulty. Also, the bold and colourful pictures tell the story in complement to the simple wording.

The very hungry caterpillar could be used to read to the whole class in a classroom. The story could aid or promote discussion on a number of topics such as counting skills (foods accumulate increasingly), the days of the week, nutrition (the best food for the caterpillar is the leaf, not the candy, cake, etc. or why we can't eat chocolate and sweets all day long), science (metamorphosis of the caterpillar to butterfly), and shapes (foods).
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