First things first, do you say “cat-a-pell-er” or “cat-er-pill-at”?! Evy says “baadaahh.”
Time for this blog to take on a classic.
Eric Carle’s unique illustrations became an instantly recognizable cultural meme with the popularity of this book. The question with anything different is: why did it catch on? Certainly not everything that stands out does. These images both intrigue me and make me uncomfortable, so why do we love them?
Well, he chose the subject matter well enough. It was ripe, no pun intended. I mean, who did not learn an insane amount about caterpillars in school? As much as stop, drop, and roll or how volcanoes work. We cannot underestimate the importance of butterflies literarily and culturally either.
The language goes back and forth from a formal tone with almost religious inklings to familiar, common terms tinted with humor. Really, the voice is as unique as the art.
This book is colorful. It encourages healthy eating (the lettuce helps him feel better, sweets make him sick). It includes counting and the days of the week. All this is easy to miss because we’re focused on the story. and even though we know how it is going to end, they don’t. It brings out one of the best things about children. We get to enjoy their disbelief, excitement, and skepticism at everything new, like that a caterpillar with fat and legs can become a fluttery butterfly, a completely different thing. So it’s new to us again too.
Many of us still marvel at the butterfly. We’ve tried transforming into something we are not and learned the parts of us that just are. I relate more to the caterpillar and his intense hunger…
The kids we watch grow, though, they don’t look remotely like they did just a few short months ago. Ironically, the child wonders at the growth of the butterfly without realizing, they are basically the same thing!
The seasons are changing, and this is all about change. Little butterflies are all around us here. Time to curl up with a book by the fireplace. Okay, it’s safely off since someone doesn’t understand “hot” or “for the love oh God, no!” yet, but we’re still by the fireplace.
Don’t be too cool to grab this just because it’s over done. It can’t be over done. Ask Evy. It can’t.
-Evy and Me.