Eric Carle: Author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar dies at 91

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Carle published his most famous work in 1969 - AP
Carle published his most famous work in 1969 - AP

Acclaimed children's author and illustrator Eric Carle, perhaps best remembered for his classic story The Very Hungry Caterpillar, has died at age 91, publisher Penguin Kids said on Twitter.

The Washington Post reported a statement from Carle's family which said he died at his home in Northampton, Massachusetts on Sunday.

Carle's signature children's book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, published in 1969, has been translated into more than 60 languages and has sold more than 50 million copies.

His body of work, distinguished by brightly colored illustrations, consisted of more than 70 titles including Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, The Grouchy Ladybug and Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar has been read by millions of children - GETTY IMAGES
The Very Hungry Caterpillar has been read by millions of children - GETTY IMAGES

In an interview with The Telegraph in 2019, Carle said the idea for his most famous work came from a hole-punch.

“I was punching holes into a stack of paper, and I thought of a bookworm,” he said. “And so I created a story called A Week with Willi the Worm.” However, his editor was not too keen. “[She] suggested a caterpillar and I said ‘Butterfly!’ And the rest is history.”

Read more: Eric Carle on creating The Very Hungry Caterpillar: 'I wanted to call it Willi the Worm...'

According to the Washington Post, more than 170 million copies of Carle's books have been sold, in several dozen languages.

In addition to his work as an author and illustrator of children's stories, Carle was a noted artist and designer.

At age 87, he embarked on a series of cardboard and abstract, found-object collages depicting angels, which he dedicated to the artist Paul Klee.

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According to Carle's website, Klee created over 70 drawings and paintings of angels during his lifetime.

In 2019, scientists commemorated the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Carle's 90th birthday, by naming a caterpillar-like spider Uroballus carlei in his honour.

Carle also co-founded a museum for picture book art in Amherst, Massachusetts.

A tweet on the museum's account said: "He was our friend, our inspiration, and a creative visionary for generations of artists and children."

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