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Eric Carle books to read after The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Beloved author Eric Carle died last week. He was best known for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but there was much more to him than one charmingly ravenous insect
The Very Hungry Caterpillar remains a firm family favourite. Photo: Arun Joseph

Eric Carle, best known for the beloved children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, has died at the age of 91.

His team released a statement to his Twitter account, announcing “with heavy hearts” that Carle had passed away on May 23. They added: “Thank you for sharing your talent with generations of young readers.”

Carle’s most famous work, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, was published in 1969. It has sold more than 50 million copies and been translated into 62 languages.

Carle has written and illustrated over 40 children’s books alongside the caterpillar classic. We took a look through his back catalogue and found some less well known gems for both children and adults alike.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (1967)

Carle’s first published work details a lumbering bear and his many vibrantly illustrated friends. The singsong rhythmic text makes it very easy for young children to engage and consider questions and answers – and maybe even spot their new favourite animal, such as a purple cat.

Children enjoying Eric Carle's BBrown Bear, Brown Bear What do You See?
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Children enjoying Eric Carle's Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do You See? Photo: Wayan Vota

All in a Day (1986)

This is a collaborative effort of ten internationally acclaimed artists, including Carle, collected by Mitsumasa Anno. It captures the events in the lives of nine children on New Year’s Day in various countries all over the world, highlighting time, climate, environmental and social differences. Each tale emphasises the commonality of humankind and how children can be different but still mutually understand one another. Children can begin to understand and appreciate cultural differences through the creative artwork woven throughout the book.

A child enjoying The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Massachusetts, USA
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A child enjoying The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Massachusetts, USA. Photo: Amy Gizienski

Dragons, Dragons & Other Creatures That Never Were (1991)

Carle collaborated with many other authors throughout his career. Laura Whipple supplies the words to this collection of poems, which borrow from literature including verses from Shakespeare and the Bible. Carle illustrates the fantastic legendary beasts, including the Quetzalcoatl (a feathered serpent), the Kraken (a sea monster) and many more. The helpful glossary gives further details on each mythical creature.

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The Art of Eric Carle (1996)

This book includes the author’s autobiography illustrated with personal photographs, as well as a photographic essay on how Carle creates his collages. It also features an anecdotal essay by his longtime editor. The main feature is, unsurprisingly, Carle’s beautifully vibrant collage illustrations with more than 60 images reproduced throughout the copy. They show the progression of his talent from posters produced as a commercial graphic designer to the saturated tissue paper collages he is best known for today.

Flora and Tiger
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Flora and Tiger: 19 Very Short Stories from My Life (1997)

This collection of short stories is Carle’s first book for older children. Each anecdote details his encounters with nature throughout his life: from his youth in Germany to adulthood in the United States. The tales convey his deep love for his family and how he inherited such a strong appreciation for nature and story-telling from his father.