Eric Carle, the Author-Illustrator of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar,’ Passes Away

German-American author-illustrator Eric Carle, known for his children’s book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” has passed away at the age of 91, according to publisher Penguin Books USA.

The author peacefully died in his home in Northampton, Massachusetts on Sunday, May 23, surrounded by family members. No cause of death was determined.

“In the light of the moon, holding on to a good star, a painter of rainbows is now traveling across the night sky,” the official Eric Carle website read.

Carle has illustrated over 70 books throughout the course of his career and is recognized for his use of vivid color, paper cutouts, and themes of animals and nature. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” was his most famous work, first published in 1969. According to Penguin Books, it has been translated into 66 languages and more than 50 million copies were sold.

The book is often used not only as a bedtime story but also as teaching material in school for kids to learn about numbers, the days of the week, and even big new words like “cherry pie,” “Swiss cheese,” and “salami” (all of which were featured in the book). Carle, however, initially wrote the story as a literary device to help children get ready for kindergarten.

“I think it is a book of hope,” Carle said in a commemorative video released by Penguin Random House in 2019. “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.”

Currently, there is an Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts, founded by Carle’s late second wife Barbara.

(ALSO READ: Samuel E. Wright, the Voice of Sebastian of ‘The Little Mermaid,’ Has Passed Away)

May he rest in peace.

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