In the United States, Eric Carle, the author of the famous childrens picture book Caterpillar Nooitenough, died. Carle died on Sunday at the age of 91 in the state of Massachusetts, but his death was only announced today.
Besides a writer, Carle was also an illustrator; during his career he worked on more than seventy childrens books. Yet he only started drawing for childrens literature at a later age.
He was born in the US, but at the insistence of his German mother, the family moved to Germany, where Carle spent World War II with nostalgia for his homeland. In 1952 he returned to the US, where he became a graphic designer.
In 1967 he illustrated his first childrens book: Beertje Bruin, what do you see there? Author Bill Martin Jr. asked Carle for the job after seeing a drawn red lobster for an advertisement of him. Carle liked illustrating so much, he decided to turn it into his profession. He then also wrote the texts of childrens books himself.
50 million copies
Carles style as an illustrator was recognizable. His work is not only very colourful, he also used a collage technique. That meant he was working with different pieces of paper.
In 1969 Carles most famous work was published: Caterpillar Nooitenough, a colourful book for toddlers about a caterpillar that eats itself and eventually turns into a butterfly. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, as the original is called, was praised at the time of its appearance for the simple choice of words, with which children could learn to read. It was published in 65 languages and around 50 million copies were sold worldwide.
In 2019, around the 50th anniversary of Caterpillar Nooitenough, Carle explained why the book was such a success:
The popularity, Carle thought, had to do with the theme. He told the BBC in 2019 that it is the message of hope, which is in the story: “A small insignificant caterpillar flying into the world like a beautiful butterfly.”
In Dutch politics, Rupsje Neverenoueg took a different meaning. Minister of Finance Gerrit Zalm and other VVDers, like him, called the Pvdaer Ad Melkert because he constantly asked for extra money for expenses.