by Vito Lucia, The Chicago Times

May 26, 2021

Eric Carle, the acclaimed children’s novelist and artist has died at the age of 91. His classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other works offered millions of youngsters some of their earliest and most cherished literary experiences.

Carle died Sunday in his summer studio in Northampton, Massachusetts, with family members by his side.  Penguin Young Readers made the announcement for the family.

Carle was born in Syracuse, New York, to German immigrant parents, and at the age of 6 his family moved back to Germany. Carle’s life was changed when a high school art instructor invited him to his house and privately showed him expressionist work, particularly Franz Marc’s “Blue Horse.”  His unique drawing style involved stitching together pieces made primarily of tissue paper that he had painted with varied colors and textures. 

His father taught him about the marvels of living things, which he would later immortalize in his novels. “As far back as I can remember, he would take my hand and lead me out into nature when I was a small child,” he told The New York Times in 1994.  “And he’d show me worms, bugs, bees, and ants, and tell me about their lives.  It was a really affectionate relationship.”

In 1952, Carle returned to the United States after graduating from a prestigious German art school.  Before moving into advertising, he worked as a graphic designer in The New York Times’ promotion department.

Bill Martin, Jr. was the one who saw Carle’s potential and introduced him into the publishing industry. Carle was working as an art director for an advertising firm at the time, and Martin required an artist for his 1967 book “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”

Carle authored and/or drew over 75 books, occasionally in collaboration with Bill Martin Jr. or other authors, but for the most part on his own.  His most recent book, “The Nonsense Show,” was published in 2015.  Carle is survived by his son and daughter.