Beloved children’s author Eric Carle passed away earlier this week of kidney failure at the age of 91.
A statement released by his family said that he “passed away peacefully and surrounded by family members on May 23, 2021 at his summer studio in Northampton, Massachusetts.”
Carle did not begin to author kids’ books until he was almost 40 years old, but by the end of his life, the illustrator created the artwork and words for more than 70 books including his most famous work “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” Since its publication in 1969, 55 million copies of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” have been distributed around the world and translated into more than 70 languages.
Other popular books from Carle include “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” and “The Grouchy Ladybug,” many of which earned him various prestigious literary awards and even helped inspire the author and his wife to open The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Massachusetts.
Even after Carle’s age caught up with him and his “words became clumsy and inefficient,” the author continued to create his art.
“What was immediately evident was the ease with which Eric handled any drawing tool during a time when handling eating utensils was becoming more difficult,” Carle’s aide, Jennifer Chanda Orozco, wrote. “…it was his art that anchored Eric and allowed him to articulate himself in the language he knew best.”
In 2019, during the 50th anniversary of the publication of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” Carle reflected on why his books are so popular and have resonated with young children for generations.
“It took me a long time,” he explained, “but I think it is a book of hope. Children need hope. You little insignificant caterpillar can grow up into a beautiful butterfly and fly into the world with your talent. Will I ever be able to do that? Yes, you will. I think that is the appeal of that book.”