For children’s author Eric Carle, immortality started with a hole puncher, said Bob Minzesheimer in USA Today. It was the late 1960s and the veteran New York commercial artist didn’t have a story idea for his third book. But he had a stack of paper on his desk that his hole puncher was turning into Swiss cheese when inspiration struck: He would write about a bookworm named Willi who nibbles holes through the pages in the reader’s hands. Fortunately, his editor balked. She liked the holes, not the worm, and suggested a caterpillar instead. Carle’s mind flashed to the brilliant butterfly that would conclude the fable. “It became a book about hope,” he says.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar ranks today as the second best-selling picture book of all time, said Ramin Setoodeh in Newsweek. Celebrating the book’s 40th anniversary last week, Carle, 80, says that his signature work and all six-dozen since were the result of both good luck and his desire to erase memories of a bleak childhood spent in World War II Germany. Born in Syracuse, N.Y., Carle had been a happy American kindergartner before his family returned to their native land. He spent the war watching bombs destroy his neighborhood. “With my books,” he says, “I try to recapture a period I should’ve had and didn’t—more fun, more nonsense, more humor.” Four decades after his butterfly moment, that impulse, he says, is still paying dividends.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The 11 worst fast food restaurants in America
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Why are so many parents being arrested?
- 9 things you probably didn't know about the moon
- The biggest lesson Obama failed to learn from Bush
- Israel has only two choices: Eliminate the Palestinians or make peace
- What I learned from totally unplugging and shutting up for three days
- The rise of the global middle class is our best hope to stop climate change
- Why America is duty bound to help Iraqi Christians
Subscribe to the Week