Eric Carle creates brilliantly illustrated and designed picture books for very young children. His best-known work, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, has eaten its way into the hearts of literally millions of children all over the world and has been translated into more than 30 languages and sold more than 25 million copies. Since publishing Caterpillar in 1969, Carle has illustrated more than 70 books, many best sellers, most of which he also wrote, and more than 75 million copies of his books have sold around the world.
Distinctive and instantly recognizable, Carle’s art work is created in collage technique, using hand-painted papers, which he cuts and layers to form bright and cheerful images. The appeal of Carle’s books lies in his intuitive understanding of and respect for children, who instinctively sense in him someone who shares their most cherished thoughts and emotions. The themes of his stories are usually drawn from his extensive knowledge and love of nature—an interest shared by most small children.
The Washington Post describes Carle’s “mega-bestsellers” as “picture books about usually unlovable creatures that overcome obstacles to find meaning in life.” Says Carle: “With many of my books I attempt to bridge the gap between the home and school. I believe the passage from home to school is the second biggest trauma of childhood; the first is, of course, being born. Indeed, in both cases we leave a place of warmth and protection for one that is unknown. The unknown often brings fear with it. In my books I try to counteract this fear, to replace it with a positive message.”
In 2002, Carle and his wife, Barbara, helped to found the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Mass., the first full-scale museum in this country devoted to national and international picture book art, conceived and built with the aim of celebrating the art that we are first exposed to as children.