45 years of the Very Hungry Caterpillar

The much loved Very Hungry Caterpillar book is now 45 years old!

I remember reading this story with my mum when I was little and it is now a favourite bedtime story with my sons too

Written in 1969 the book has sold over 37 million copies across the globe and it has been translated into over 45 languages. With his distinctive shape and colouring The Very Hungry Caterpillar is an instantly recognisable character born from the much-loved children’s book

To celebrate the landmark anniversary, Puffin has released a special 45th anniversary edition of the bestselling story.  Available now it celebrates 45th years since the lovable character took his very first bite and no doubt will be cherished by the many generations who grew up reading the beautiful life journey of The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Here are some fabulous facts about the hungry caterpillar:


  1.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar has sold the equivalent of a copy per minute since its publication.
  2. A prolific author and artist, Eric Carle has written and illustrated more than seventy books.
  3. More than 125 million copies of Eric Carle’s books have sold worldwide.
  4. Researchers estimate that the book is read an average of nine times a year by the nation’s 5.5million primary school children.
  5. Every year on 20th March, The Very Hungry Caterpillar Day is celebrated.
  6. There are 11 different book formats available for The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
  7. The Very Hungry Caterpillar has been translated into over 55 languages, including Dutch, French, German, Chinese, Italian, Swedish and Russian.
  8. Over 130 companies manufacture The Very Hungry Caterpillar products globally.
  9. The Very Hungry Caterpillar large bean toy is amongst the best selling products in UK, selling nearly 1 million at retail since 2008.
  10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar products are available to purchase in over 30,000 retail doors across 15+ countries including UK, US, Australia, Japan, Korea, Germany,
  11. On 20th March 2014, Action for Children will be running the first ever Giant Wiggle across 700 UK nurseries and centres and with 30,000 children to celebrate the 45th Anniversary.
  12.  ‘All about The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ magazine to launch April in the UK
  13. The official website www.eric-carle.com receives around 2 million visitors each month and the official facebook page has attracted nearly 14,000 followers to date
  14. On The World of Eric Carle facebook page www.facebook.com/theworldofEricCarle , the brand’s official page, fans can find all things related to The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other Eric Carle favorites.
  15. The book has been described as ‘one of the greatest childhood classics of all time’ by notable publications such as The Guardian.
  16. Within the story, the caterpillar eats through 26 different foods including pears, strawberries, a slice of Swiss cheese, a lollipop and a cupcake.
  17. Eric Carle was inspired by a hole-punch and once said, ‘One day I was punching holes with a hole-puncher into a stack of paper, and I thought of a bookworm’.
  18. Carle’s famous technique of ‘different shaped pages’ with holes that represents the caterpillars food trail, was inspired from books that he read as a child in Germany.
  19. Eric Carle’s distinctive art work is created in collage technique, using hand-painted papers, which he cuts and layers to form bright and cheerful images.
  20. The themes of Carle’s stories are usually drawn from his extensive knowledge and love of nature – an interest shared by most small children.
  21. The book was originally called ‘A Week with Willi the Worm’, however Carle’s editor Anne Beneduce advised that a green worm would not make a likeable character. ‘Then my editor suggested a caterpillar instead and I said ‘Butterfly!’ That’s how it began,” Carle once recalled.
  22. Carle’s editor Anne Beneduce could not find a US printer that could produce the book economically; she later found one in Japan.
  23. The book has been used by teachers, librarians and parents as a teaching aid.
  24. In 2009, Google celebrated the book’s 40th anniversary and Carle’s 80th birthday with a themed doodle designed by Carle himself.  Two were created, one for each hemisphere.
  25. Over the years the book has won numerous awards, these include an American Institute of Graphic Arts Award in 1970, the Selection du Grand Prix des Treize in France in 1972, and the Nakamori Reader’s Prize in Japan in 1975.
  26. In 1969, the New York Times cited the book as one of the ‘Ten Best Picture Books of the Year’.
  27. In 2007, the National Education Association named the book as one of its ‘Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children’.
  28. Although the caterpillar diet is purely fictional and not scientifically accurate, the book introduces concepts of Lepidoptera life stages where transformations take place including the metamorphosis from ‘hungry caterpillar’ to ‘beautiful butterfly’.
  29. The book and story has been endorsed by the Royal Entomological Society.
  30. Born in Syracuse, New York, in 1929, Eric Carle moved with his parents to Germany when he was six years old.
  31. Eric Carle graduated from the prestigious art school, the Akademie der bildenden Künste, in Stuttgart.
  32. Carle worked as a graphic designer in the promotion department of The New York Times.
  33. Eric Carle’s first wholly original book was 1,2,3 to the Zoo followed soon afterward by the celebrated classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
  34. Children continuously send hundreds of letters and pictures inspired by his illustrations to Eric Carle each week.
  35. Eric Carle has two grown-up children, a son and a daughter.
  36. Carle lives with his wife Barbara; he divides his time between the Florida Keys and the hills of North Carolina. Eric and Barbara Carle founded The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in November 2002.  Its mission is to inspire a love of art and reading through picture books, it is the only full-scale museum of its kind in the United States.
  37. At 84 years old, Eric Carle continues to produce new works, the latest, What’s Your Favorite Animal? by Carle and other noteworthy picture-book artists was released in January and benefits The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.
  38. Eric Carle’s favourite book that he has written is Do You Want to Be My Friend?
  39. In addition to The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle has written and/or illustrated many books including notable favourites such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, The Bad-Tempered Ladybird and The Very Busy Spider.
  40. There are The Very Hungry Caterpillar cafes at London Zoo, Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace.
  41. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is often associated with healthy eating because he eats fruit, then after eating various snack foods he gets a stomach ache, eats a leaf and feels better.


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