The Very Hungry Caterpillar
I love children’s book. You could probably figure that out when I posted about my Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I don’t just love them for the nostalgia factor, I genuinely love them. I loved them when I was a child and they never did any wrong, so I continue to love them. There was Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Stinky Cheese Man, and all those Amelia Bedelia books. My favorites were the Shel Silverstein books, the Berenstain Bears, and Tomie dePaola. I don’t really know if Tomie dePaola was actually that well known. Do any of you know who he is? My first grade class read Legend of the Indian Paintbrush and then we got to meet him. Live. In the flesh. A think at that point, that was the highlight of my life. We got a picture with him in the newspaper. Maybe it was just the local paper but, hey, what difference does it make to a first grader?!
Another favorite was Eric Carle. Man his books were great! I loved The Grouchy Ladybug. And now, all of a sudden, The Very Hungry Caterpillaris eating it’s way back into the spotlight. It’s a great book. Why wouldn’t you love it? The pages have holes in them! And it’s much more interesting than any normal book because the pages are different sizes. No wonder it has sold a bagillion copies! Apparently this is the 40th anniversary of that book! I know this because one of my many addictions is Google and last week I opened Google and was delighted to see this:
Now, to a child or a naive adult, it appears that Eric Carle’s intention with this book was to teach children the days of the week, numbers, and the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. After some experiences yesterday, I’m certain this isn’t true. I think that Mr. Carle was a gardener. I think he came home from work after a tough day of drawing picture books and as he was unlocking his back door, he glanced back at his garden. There stood a sad, brown stalk of something that might resemble a tomato plant. In shock he ran over to it. “What could have happened? I swear I just watered you! And we just got rain. Surely you aren’t that thirsty!” Eric was right. He had just watered his plant. After further inspection he found a small green caterpillar. “Well that sucks! And you suck! Normally I’d just move you to another place in the yard but, nope, not this time. You’ve pissed me off something awful and now you’re going to get squished under my shoe.” Eric was mad. He felt betrayed. Just the previous day he’d moved the caterpillar off the plant onto the hibiscus. How did it find it’s way all the way back? Did the caterpillar only hunger for the sweet flavor of tomatoes? He squated back down to inspect the damage. That’s when all hell broke lose. Caterpillars. Tens of thousands of caterpillars. Okay, maybe just tens of caterpillars. They were all over. Hiding under leaves, too lethargic from a day of tomato feasting to run away. One by one, Mr. Carle picked the disgusting gluttons off his plant. And one by one he squished them under his shoe on his white cement.
Mr. Carle went inside and used his anger as energy and inspiration. He drew and he wrote and he wrote and he drew. And he finished with a masterpiece. A beautiful story about a caterpillar eating all week. Eating cake and ice cream and a watermelon. But with a stroke of bitterness, he made certain that this caterpillar would never get a taste of a sweet homegrown tomato. Then, to add insult to injury, he gave the beast a stomachache and turned him into a butterfly.
Too bad this story has already been written. What are Stephen and I supposed to do with our anger??