Eric Carle Biography

His use of brilliant colors and innovative graphics gives a distinctive touch to the children’s books of American author Eric Carle. His 1969 book The Very Hungry Caterpillar is designed with holes carved in the pages to illustrate how the main character gnaws his food.

Eric Carle, born in 1929, American writer and illustrator of books for young children, best known for The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1969). Carle's books utilize bold color and innovative techniques to try and stimulate a child's imagination in order to facilitate the child's transition from home to school. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, for example, is designed with scalloped holes through the pages to demonstrate how a caterpillar eats through different materials.

Carle, an American of German descent, was born in Syracuse, New York, and was educated in Germany at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Stuttgart. He returned to the United States in 1952, serving in the U.S. Army until 1954. Carle then worked as a graphic designer for the New York Times from 1954 to 1956, when he became a freelance writer and designer. In 1970 Carle received the American Institute of Graphic Arts Award twice, and the same year also won the Children's Literature prize in Germany.

Carle's work is strongly graphical. The illustrations, primitive in style, are compositions of boldly colored and textured tissue papers that Carle prepares himself, cut or torn into shapes and glued to board. Although the simple narratives and vocabulary serve mainly as a light framework for the graphic elements, the concepts of the stories are not necessarily simplistic. In addition to The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Carle's works include: The Very Long Train (1972), a folding book; The Very Quiet Cricket (1990), in which an audio element mimics the sound of a cricket; and The Very Lonely Firefly (1995), in which the firefly character lights up in the final pages. Carle has also worked extensively on collaborative books with other artists and writers.

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