Eric Carle, the acclaimed author and illustrator best known for the children’s classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar, has died aged 91, according to a statement from his publisher that was shared in his official Instagram account.
The book, first published in 1969, features a caterpillar who eats his way through many different foods over the course of a week before finally emerging as a beautiful butterfly.
With its distinctive artwork and subtle educational concepts, the book has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide and been translated into more than 60 languages.
“It is with heavy hearts that we share that Eric Carle, author and illustrator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and many other beloved classics, passed away on May 23rd at the age of 91,” publisher Penguin Kids, wrote in the statement that was published on Twitter.
The Washington Post newspaper said the author died at his home in Northampton, Massachusetts on Sunday.
“When asked why he thinks The Very Hungry Caterpillar has remained popular for so long, Carle said, ‘I think it is a book of hope. Children need hope. You, little insignificant caterpillar, can grow up into a beautiful butterfly and fly into the world with your talent’,” the statement on his official Instagram account said.
“Thank you, Eric Carle for sharing your great talent with so many generations of young readers,” it added.
It is with heavy hearts that we share that Eric Carle, author & illustrator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and many other beloved classics, passed away on May 23rd at the age of 91.
— Penguin Kids (@penguinkids) May 26, 2021
Tributes to the author poured in on social media, including from the rich and famous.
“Eric Carle has died- but he left us the unforgettable Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear, Brown Bear- books i read to my children and now my grandchildren,” tweeted actress Mia Farrow. “Loving thoughts with his family and very much gratitude for Mr Carle.”
Carle published more than 70 titles, distinguished by their colourful artwork, including Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, The Grouchy Ladybug and Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me.
In addition to his work as a children’s author, Carle was a noted artist and designer.
When he was 87, he embarked on a series of cardboard and abstract, collages made from recycled materials depicting angels, which he dedicated to the artist Paul Klee.
Carle’s website posted a drawing and a poem in tribute to the author:
In the light of the moon
holding on to a good star,
a painter of rainbows
is now traveling across the night sky