'I write for the child inside': Eric Carle celebrates 50 years of The Very Hungry Caterpillar - plus, win a super book bundle

We're celebrating the anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar by giving you the chance to win four super books.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

'On Saturday, he ate through one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one slice of watermelon.

'That night he had a stomachache.'

It's fair to say that The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle has become a complete classic in the world of children's books, entertaining little ones just as much today as it did when it was first published 50 years ago.

That's right: the book is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, so to mark the occasion, we spoke to Eric about how he feels to have reached so many children.

And keep scrolling to find out how you could win a Very Hungry Caterpillar book bundle, too!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Birthday Party

What do you feel about the enduring success of The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Is it strange to know that generations of children all loved your book?

It is a great honor to me that generations of readers have loved my book. I am very grateful to every reader, to all of the readers of all ages around the world.

What inspired you to create the book in the first place?

One day I was absent-mindedly punching holes into a stack of paper with a hole puncher, and I thought of a bookworm. And so I created a story called A Week with Willi the Worm. Then later my editor, Ann Beneduce, who didn't like the idea of a worm, suggested a caterpillar and I said, 'Butterfly!' And the rest is history.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar's theme of metamorphosis – growing up and change - is such a meaningful one for children. What are the most important themes and messages to convey in picture books, do you think?

I do not think of my books in terms of themes. I tend to write from my own experience and memories, and out of my longtime fascination with nature, animals and insects. I write for the child inside - that is where I always begin. I try to entertain that child who is inside to this day. And I try to include a little learning, too.

What was your favourite book as a child?

I didn't have many books as a child. But I have wonderful memories of reading the funny pages with my Dad, sitting on his lap. And it was this closeness with him that stays with me still.

I feel strongly that by reading to your child, you show them that you love them, you make time for them. And reading stories together then becomes more than stories. It becomes about a sense of connection and closeness.

Win a Very Hungry Caterpillar book bundle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar prize bundle

If you fancy celebrating The Very Hungry Caterpillar's big milestone in style, don't miss out on our competition!

Five lucky winners will be getting their hands on:

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar Anniversary Edition
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Birthday Party
  • Sleep Tight Very Hungry Caterpillar

To be in with a chance of winning this lovely prize, simply answer the question below and fill in your details before the closing date of 11pm on Monday, 3 June. Good luck!

Win a book bundle to celebrate 50 years of The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Which of these foods did the Very Hungry Caterpillar NOT eat?

Terms and conditions

1. Participants must be at least 18 years old to enter.

2. To enter the competition, you must be a resident of England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

3. The competition is not open to employees (or members of their immediate families) of BookTrust.

4. Only one entry per person.

5. Entries must be submitted by 11pm on Monday, 3 June 2019.

6. There will be five winners selected at random (from all eligible entries).

7. If a chosen winner does not respond to correspondence within one week, a new winner will be selected.

8. Our decision will be final, and no correspondence will be entered into.

9. The prize will not be transferable to another person.

10. No part of the prize is exchangeable for cash or any other prize.

11. The prize is run by BookTrust of G8 Battersea Studios, 80 Silverthorne Road, Battersea, London SW8 3HE. However, the prize will be sent out by a third party and by entering you acknowledge that your details will be passed on to them, solely for the purposes of administering this competition.

12. By entering you are agreeing to the terms and conditions in our privacy statement.

13. BookTrust reserves the right to amend the competition end date at any time.

Get ready for Pyjamarama

Join the Pyjamarama fun this June!

Let the kids stay in their pyjamas all day and donate £1 to help us give every child a bedtime story.

Sign up for your free fundraising pack today