Man who created and illustrated the iconic The Very Hungry Caterpillar book dies

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Children's author, Eric Carle, the man behind the iconic The Very Hungry Caterpillar has died aged 91.

Penguin Kids Books shared the devastating news with fans on social media.

A self-described 'picture writer', he illustrated and wrote more than 70 books for children and sold more than 170 million copies.

His most famous work, about a caterpillar who eats through a selection of fruits and food before transforming into a butterfly, has sold more than 55 million copies around the world since it was published in 1969.

The story followed the fictional caterpillar chomping through one apple, two pears, and so on until it's ultimately full, has charmed generations of kids and their parents over the decades.

Carle died on Sunday at his summer studio in Northampton, Massachusettes, writes the Washington Post.

"It is with heavy hearts that we share that Eric Carle, author & illustrator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and many other beloved classics," read a tweet from Penguin Kids Books.

His son, Rolf, said his cause of death was kidney failure.

"Thank you for sharing your great talent with generations of young readers."

His creature in the book became one of the best-selling children's books of all time.

In 2003, Carle received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, now called the Children's Literature Legacy Award from the American Library Association.
The award recognises authors and illustrators whose books have made a lasting contribution to children's literature.

Carle tapped into his inner child and used it to progress his career as an author, and began writing children's books in his late 30s.

He told the LA Times in 1995: "I had a lot of feelings, philosophical thoughts – at the age of 6.

"The only way I got older and wiser was that I got better trained. But that brain and soul were at their peak."

Born in 1929, in Syracuse, New York, he was born to German immigrants.

His mother Joanna worked at a family business and his father worked in a factory spray-painting washing machines.

Carle previously said that he honoured his dad by writing about small living things after he would take him on trips in the woods as a small boy.

“When I was a small boy, my father would take me on walks across meadows and through woods,” Mr. Carle said on his website.

“He would lift a stone or peel back the bark of a tree and show me the living things that scurried about. He’d tell me about the life cycles of this or that small creature, and then he would carefully put the little creature back into its home.”

“I think in my books I honor my father by writing about small living things,” he added.

“And in a way I recapture those happy times.”

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