Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar is about a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. The book begins with the caterpillar coming out of the egg. The caterpillar is starving and eats a variety of foods: apples, pears, plums, strawberries, and oranges. The caterpillar then eats junk food which makes it sick. Eating a green leaf makes him better and also ready to turn into a butterfly. The caterpillar then builds a cocoon and finally turns into a butterfly.
The book shows the reader how to count to five by showing the caterpillar eat one more piece of food each day. The days are shown in order from Monday to Sunday, which would teach the child the days of the week. By making the caterpillar sick after eating junk food, the book seems to be promoting healthy eating in children. It also shows the life-cycle of the butterfly. A moral to be taken from the book is that you will become what you are truly meant to be. Blake also gave a similar moral in “The Little Black Boy” in the lines “And these black bodies and this sunburnt face/ Is but a cloud, and like a shady grove.” Both are advocating to not judge something based solely on its outward appearance because there could be something beautiful on the inside. A more adult theme is present also in the book: take all you can get since the caterpillar eats everything put in front of it
In creating the book, Carle took into account what Strasburger said about how children’s memories function: “Younger children have difficulty considering multiple pieces of information in working memory” (p.32). Carle wrote the book so the children would really only have to focus on the pictures, since the text for the most part describes the pictures. The text also repeats itself at a few points in the book at points where it is trying to teach the child something. For example, Carle writes the phrase “On [Monday], he ate through [one][apple]. But he was still hungry” (p.3). Carle repeats this format for five pages (also representative of the five days of the week), only changing the words in brackets. By doing this, there are less pieces of new information for the child on these pages so their working memory would be able to put more into memory.
Carle also seems to agree with Locke’s view that children “should be taught to dance as soon as they are capable of learning it” (p.1). This is because he makes his book very accessible to young children by making it a picture book with only 225 words in it. The book’s pictures are also appealing with their bright, vivid colors which in turn could cause the child to want to read the book and learn from it. The book may be seen as overly simple or somewhat dull but this simplicity is what helps the child remember the book. The simplicity would allow a range of children, and people learning English as well, to have the capacity to engage with the book/text.