Customer Review

124 of 131 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece of children's literature, 13 April 2005
This review is from: The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Paperback)
There can be few books for children that work on so many levels, and are so completely satisfying. I have been a children's librarian for over 30 years, and I can't think of anything to surpass it. The very simple story is just that the caterpillar eats his way through a variety of foods, becoming bigger all the time, until he turnes into a butterfly. The artwork is glorious, in Eric Carle's typical tissue-paper collage, with wonderful jewel-like colours. He has made many picture books, but this one is definitely the best. The pages vary in size, getting gradually larger with the caterpillar, and have holes in to show him chomping his way through the leaves, fruit, chocolate cake and ice cream, so it is interesting and tactile for little ones. It introduces counting (because he eats one plum, two oranges, three pieces of melon, etc), days of the week (one foodstuff per day!) and thus the passage of time, growth and change, the biology of caterpillars and butterflies, and, above all, it's great FUN!! My all-time favourite children's book is "Where the wild things are", but this would run it a close second.
There is no better book for under 7's. Buy it NOW, but buy the proper book, as opposed to the board book, or any other "messed-about version!
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 28 Dec 2008 15:36:05 GMT
Last edited by the author on 6 Oct 2009 19:28:50 BDT
Susanne says:
Is this a review or an opinion?
As a 'librarian', surely reading is to be encouraged at any level, or choice of reading material? The paperback version of a 'complete' story is good for children able to read, or for it to be read to them; but young children love looking through familiar books and early readers may gain valuable confidence with shorter board book versions. And where's the harm in that?

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Nov 2009 15:45:37 GMT
It's both! Inevitably a reviewer is saying what he or she thinks of the work in question, so therefore it is their "opinion". I attempted to describe the book and its contents to help a potential buyer and advise them to spend their money on the best version - clearly I failed in your case!

Reading most certainly is to be encouraged at any level, and I don't think that by suggesting that buyers choose an unadulterated version of this book I was denying that. It's merely that board books, rag books (not the paperback version, I admit - apologies. That is full size and not altered) etc, are never as satisfying as the original versions, and children are too undiscriminating to tell. There have been some dreadful crimes against literature committed in the name of simplification. Ever seen the Ladybird versions of Dickens, or The Wind in the Willows? If a child is at a stage of development where short simple books are required, then why not give them books that are written and designed in that way? The reason why classics become classics is that they have a quality that transcends time. The bowdlerizations never survive. Anyway, a discussion about simplification and abridgement is not really the issue here (and please don't get me started on reading schemes!). The argument doesn't really apply to this particular book, as it is already simple and short, indeed it is hardly what teachers charmingly call a "reading book" at all. Also, the child at whom this book is aimed is too young to have any "familiar" books! It's just that the physically smaller versions make the pictures hard to appreciate fully, and you don't get the punched-hole pages, which are part of the pleasure. There is (or rather probably WAS!) a really teeny-tiny version, which still had the holey pages, but they were too small to peek through or poke fingers through - a great loss, surely, as that is part of the book's charm.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Feb 2011 09:52:25 GMT
Vivienne says:
In your review, you say "get the proper book" - but Amazon seem to be selling only the BOARD version. And is this book really "not suitable for children under 3", as another reviewer claims?

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Aug 2011 12:44:00 BDT
Wendy Ely says:
I have given the board book version of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" to a one year old, and am just about to buy another copy for a tiny baby. In my opinion, it is much sturdier than the paper back version, ( which is more suitable for careful 2 - 3 year olds), but loses none of the charm. If anything, the pages are much easier to differentiate between and turn, and the colours on the glossy board are nice and vivid. As far as I remember, it is the full story, and it DOES have punched out holes for tiny fingers to poke through!
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