“In the light of the moon,
holding on to a good star,
a painter of rainbows
is now traveling across the night sky.”
Eric Carle’s children posted this poem on the illustrator’s website as a tribute to his death on Sunday, May 23, 2021 at the age of 91. Carle was the beloved children’s author and illustrator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Very Busy Spider, as well as the illustrator for Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
According to his family, Carle died in the comfort of his home in Northampton, Massachusetts surrounded by family.
Carle illustrated more than seventy children’s books during his career, which didn’t start until he was 40. He used his own childhood memories of color, light and walks through nature holding onto his dad’s hand. But when the family moved back to Germany just in time for WWII, Carle could remember how colorless the country was.
After finishing art school, Carle moved back to the United States landing a job with the New York Times. He loved the impressionist era because there was so much color!
After fighting in the Korean War, Carle went into advertising where he probably learned to use the simple and resonant language we find in The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
In a video released by Penguin Random House, Carle said he thinks of The Very Hungry Caterpillar as “a book of hope… you, little insignificant caterpillar, you can grow up into a beautiful butterfly and fly into the world with your talent.”
In 2002, Carle and his second wife opened the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts. The museum celebrates picture books from around the world to “inspire a love of art and reading through picture books.”
Eric Carle was survived by his sister and two adult children.
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