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Q&A with The Very Hungry Caterpillar author Eric Carle. Post up your Qs before midday, Friday 21 March

(38 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 17-Mar-14 13:31:05

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is celebrating its 45th Anniversary on 20th March 2014, the first day of Spring and to celebrate we're inviting you to send in your Qs to author Eric Carle. We'll choose ten questions to send over to Eric and if your question is selected and answered you will win a special 45th anniversary edition of The Hungry caterpillar.

Eric Carle is an internationally bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator of books for very young children. He was born in New York, but spent his early life in Germany. He returned to the States in his early twenties and worked as a graphic designer for the New York Times. He went on to be the art director of an advertising agency before he began writing and illustrating children's books. Eric lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Barbara. The Carles opened The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Massachusetts in 2002.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar remains one of the most read children’s book in the UK, selling over 36 million copies worldwide since its publication in 1969 and translated into more than 55 languages. It is known that The Very Hungry Caterpillar has sold the equivalent of a copy per minute since its release, with researchers estimating that the perennial classic is read an average of nine times a year by the nation’s 5.5 million primary school children.

Post your Qs to Eric before midday on Friday 21 March and we'll link to his answers in early April.

Firewall Mon 17-Mar-14 18:39:47

Hi Eric,

Thank you for writing such a wonderful book!
This was my absolute favourite book as a child. I used to be so thrilled to see it at school and in the library and it was always the book I wanted to take home! It is my favourite book from childhood and I very much look forward to sharing it with my little one.

My question is where did you find the inspiration for such a wonderful story? (Where did it stem from?)

tinypumpkin Tue 18-Mar-14 20:00:34

Another one who wants to say thank you Eric for all the lovely books you have written and The Hungry Caterpillar in particular. I also loved it as a child and my children do too.

My question is: Which of your many books did you most enjoy writing and why?

Thanks smile

Catiinthehat Tue 18-Mar-14 22:15:00

Hi, your books are truly magnificent.

I was wondering how long does it take to develop a book through to the finished product? In particular how long did it take to produce the very hungry caterpillar?

Thanks

Hopezibah Wed 19-Mar-14 11:37:04

We love your books Eric. We love all the animals and especially your very distinct style of artwork in your books.

Do you have any tips for children wanting to have a go at re-creating a piece of 'Eric Carle style art'?

I am also curious to know how long it takes to create a picture / page from one of your stories?

Each picture has such stunning detail in it in terms of colour, texture and shapes within it and yet looks simple in other ways that I wonder how you know when you feel each image is 'done'?

CheeseTMouse Wed 19-Mar-14 11:37:55

My daughter loves looking at the pictures as the colours are so vibrant and I look forward to the point at which she can be creative with art and craft and create her own stories (she's too small at the moment!)

My question is twofold - what techniques do you use to create your drawings - and which artists inspire you?

HazelDormouse Wed 19-Mar-14 14:50:28

We have found your picture books very useful, particularly when Ds was just beginning to talk. Our copies of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? and The Very Hungry Caterpillar are now disintegrating from over use. We used to have days when we would have to read them at least ten to fifteen times. I must admit my favourite is The Artist who Painted a Blue Horse , possibly because of the inclusion of Franz Marc's painting of an abstract horse.

Your colourful illustrations always appear to be spontaneous and vibrant. Is that deceptive though, do you still rely on the discipline that you must have had early on in your career as a commercial graphic designer? Can you be both spontaneous and disciplined?

Why are most of your illustrations of animals?

starlight36 Wed 19-Mar-14 16:25:42

We love The Hungry Caterpillar in our household with both our children enjoying the story. Butterflies are always 'Beautiful' in my daughter's world! Were you ever tempted to write a follow up featuring the butterfly?

Misfitless Wed 19-Mar-14 23:39:26

We are all big fans of your books in our house!

I only have to see the front covers and they bring a smile to my face.

It is a joy to re-read them to my children and remember them from my childhood all at the same time. We never tire of them..they are like old friends!

As a child which books did you revisit time and time again? And as an adult, which books, have you most enjoyed sharing with children (apart from your own)?

nonicknameseemsavailable Thu 20-Mar-14 10:32:45

ooh I like Starlight's question.

We love your stories in our house, we have a LARGE copy of the Very Hungry Caterpillar with a toy caterpillar that goes through the holes, we have a DVD of your stories, we enjoyed a wonderful puppet show of your work by the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia and as a result my daughters discovered Little Cloud which they enjoy looking at and then looking at the clouds in the sky. The beautiful illustrations and the simplicity of the stories make them enjoyable by everyone.

My question would be "Did you ever imagine that your books would capture the imagination of so many people throughout the world and why do you think they are successful?"

thank you

MamaMummyMum Thu 20-Mar-14 17:50:46

I have to say that The Hungry Caterpillar is a firm favourite in our house. It is a book that myself and my brothers loved and it is nice to be able to enjoy it with my children too.

Is there a book which you enjoyed as a child that you got to enjoy with your children too?

VelvetStrider Thu 20-Mar-14 18:21:57

I remember my parents reading the Very Hungry Caterpillar to me in the late 1970s, and my children still enjoy it now.

My question is about the holes in the pages. When the book was originally designed I imagine this would have been a very unique feature - I don't remember much in the way of 'cardboard engineering' in other books of the time. What was your inspiration for drilling holes in the pages? What was your publisher's initial reaction to the idea? And what did you envisage readers would do with the holes? (I made a small caterpillar out of a pipecleaner and pushed him through!)

StillNoFuckingEyeDeer Thu 20-Mar-14 19:47:12

I loved the very hungry caterpillar as a child & my daughter loves it now.
I always wondered if all the foods the caterpillar ate on Saturday were your favourites?

Mamakatt Thu 20-Mar-14 19:55:08

Heyo Mr Carle, we just love your books in our house. My sons fav is definitely baby bear, baby bear what do you see? He points to it and hisses like a snake as this is favourite animal sound haha

I would love to write a childrens book even if just for my son to read. Do you have any advice for aspiring childrens writers?

MCurrie75 Thu 20-Mar-14 20:01:34

I love your books, my four-year-old loves your books and now my seven-month-old is trying to put his little finger through the caterpillar book, too! You are probably aware that once people have read your caterpillar book, the image of the caterpillar stays with them forever; it is iconic, just like we have fixed associations with some other animals, e.g. a bear (Paddington), a tiger (naturally, the one who came to tea, by Judith Kerr), a cat (for my son recently it's Britta Teckentrup's Grumpy Cat), etc. Do you have such strong picture book illustration-associations with some animals and if so, can you name a few please?

Chipandspuds Sun 23-Mar-14 22:32:40

Thank you for writing such wonderful books! My Mum bought my son a copy of 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' and it bought back so many memories for me of being at play school!

My sons favourite is 'The Very Busy Spider', he lives making the different animal noises and snoring noises for the last page when the spider has fallen asleep.

My question would be how do you get your inspiration for a new story? And another question would be do you spend a lot of time outdoors watching animals and birds?

Spiritedwolf Tue 01-Apr-14 10:16:16

Hi, I just came across this topic, have the questions been answered yet, if so can I have a link to them? Thanks grin

EricCarle Wed 02-Apr-14 11:44:26

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

EricCarle Wed 02-Apr-14 11:46:24

Firewall

Hi Eric,

Thank you for writing such a wonderful book!
This was my absolute favourite book as a child. I used to be so thrilled to see it at school and in the library and it was always the book I wanted to take home! It is my favourite book from childhood and I very much look forward to sharing it with my little one.

My question is where did you find the inspiration for such a wonderful story? (Where did it stem from?)

One day I was innocently punching holes with a hole puncher into a stack of paper, and I thought of a bookworm and so I created a story called A Week with Willi the Worm. Then later my editor, who didn't like the idea of a worm, suggested a caterpillar and I said “Butterfly!” And the rest is history.

EricCarle Wed 02-Apr-14 11:47:12

tinypumpkin

Another one who wants to say thank you Eric for all the lovely books you have written and The Hungry Caterpillar in particular. I also loved it as a child and my children do too.

My question is: Which of your many books did you most enjoy writing and why?

Thanks smile

I love them all and each one is different. I feel so lucky to be able to do the work that I love.

EricCarle Wed 02-Apr-14 11:48:00

CheeseTMouse

My daughter loves looking at the pictures as the colours are so vibrant and I look forward to the point at which she can be creative with art and craft and create her own stories (she's too small at the moment!)

My question is twofold - what techniques do you use to create your drawings - and which artists inspire you?

I work in the technique called collage, which is used by many artists. Matisse and Picasso are famous for their collages. Picture book artists Leo Lionni and Ezra Jack Keats, among others, also created collages. I first made collage out of painted papers in art school. For my illustrations, I have been creating my own colored tissue papers for over 40 years. Initially I just added a few brush strokes of paint to the commercially available colored tissue papers. Then I discovered that the commercially available tissue papers faded after some time, so now I use only unpainted tissue paper and acrylic paint in all colors. Over the years my painted papers have become more detailed, complex and richer, and some have become works of art in themselves.
Among some of my favorite artists are Paul Klee (1879 to 1940), with his colorful, dreamlike paintings; and Pieter Brueghel (1525 to 1569), who painted peasants and landscapes of central Europe that remind me of where I grew up in Germany. Other illustrators whose work I admire include Leo Lionni, Maurice Sendak, Jose Aruego, Lisbeth Zwerger, Mitsumasa Anno, Ezra Jack Keats, Leo Lionni, Jerry Pinkney and Chris Van Allsburg. Each of these picture book artists has an individual and distinctive style and approach and each one speaks from his or her soul.

EricCarle Wed 02-Apr-14 11:48:45

HazelDormouse

We have found your picture books very useful, particularly when Ds was just beginning to talk. Our copies of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? and The Very Hungry Caterpillar are now disintegrating from over use. We used to have days when we would have to read them at least ten to fifteen times. I must admit my favourite is The Artist who Painted a Blue Horse , possibly because of the inclusion of Franz Marc's painting of an abstract horse.

Your colourful illustrations always appear to be spontaneous and vibrant. Is that deceptive though, do you still rely on the discipline that you must have had early on in your career as a commercial graphic designer? Can you be both spontaneous and disciplined?

Why are most of your illustrations of animals?

While I am no longer doing graphic design, I still think of myself as a designer and the training I had in design is still influencing my work today. One of my first jobs out of art school was designing posters for the Amerika Haus in Germany. I am still proud of the designs for posters I created back then and think of my illustrations to this day, especially my book covers, as little posters that capture the attention of the reader with big, bold shapes.

EricCarle Wed 02-Apr-14 11:49:37

HazelDormouse

We have found your picture books very useful, particularly when Ds was just beginning to talk. Our copies of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? and The Very Hungry Caterpillar are now disintegrating from over use. We used to have days when we would have to read them at least ten to fifteen times. I must admit my favourite is The Artist who Painted a Blue Horse , possibly because of the inclusion of Franz Marc's painting of an abstract horse.

Your colourful illustrations always appear to be spontaneous and vibrant. Is that deceptive though, do you still rely on the discipline that you must have had early on in your career as a commercial graphic designer? Can you be both spontaneous and disciplined?

Why are most of your illustrations of animals?

I have always loved to draw, ever since I was a child. My father enjoyed drawing and he used to make pictures for me. He would tell me stories while drawing pictures of trees and animals, and sometimes people. Also, my father used to take me on walks in the woods when I was a boy. He'd lift up a rock and show me the small creatures who lived underneath it. I think in my books I honor my father by writing about small living things.

EricCarle Wed 02-Apr-14 11:50:12

Misfitless

We are all big fans of your books in our house!

I only have to see the front covers and they bring a smile to my face.

It is a joy to re-read them to my children and remember them from my childhood all at the same time. We never tire of them..they are like old friends!

As a child which books did you revisit time and time again? And as an adult, which books, have you most enjoyed sharing with children (apart from your own)?

I didn’t have many books as a child, but I have very fond memories of sitting on my father’s lap while he read the Sunday Funny pages to me. I enjoyed Mickey Mouse and Flash Gordon. But it is the closeness with my father, the connection we shared that made the most lasting impact. I feel strongly that by taking your child onto your lap, holding them close while you read to them, letting them know by this simple act that you care for them, have time for them and love them. Then sharing a book becomes more than pages with words and pictures.

EricCarle Wed 02-Apr-14 11:50:47

nonicknameseemsavailable

ooh I like Starlight's question.

We love your stories in our house, we have a LARGE copy of the Very Hungry Caterpillar with a toy caterpillar that goes through the holes, we have a DVD of your stories, we enjoyed a wonderful puppet show of your work by the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia and as a result my daughters discovered Little Cloud which they enjoy looking at and then looking at the clouds in the sky. The beautiful illustrations and the simplicity of the stories make them enjoyable by everyone.

My question would be "Did you ever imagine that your books would capture the imagination of so many people throughout the world and why do you think they are successful?"

thank you

Well, for a long time, about my book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, I did not understand why it was so popular. But over time I have come to believe many children can identify with the helpless, small, insignificant caterpillar, and they rejoice when it turns into a beautiful butterfly. I think it’s a message of HOPE. It says: I too can grow up. I too can unfold my wings (my talent) and fly into the world. This is a universal concern that children have: Will I grow up? Will I be able to function as an adult?

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