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Eric Carle, (1929-2021) 

Eric Carle was an American writer and illustrator of children’s literature who published numerous best-selling books, among them The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1969), which by 2018 had sold some 50 million copies and had been translated into more than 60 languages.

Born to German immigrant parents he lived in Syracuse, New York, until 1935, at which time the Carle family returned back to Stuttgart in what was then Nazi Germany. Despite the difficulties of living in Germany at that time, Carle completed his schooling there and went on to study graphic art at Akademie der bildenden Künste in Stuttgart. In 1952 Carle returned back to New York City intending to make a living as an artist and worked as a graphic designer at The New York TimesIn 1963 Carle left his full-time job to work freelance and focus on art and it was his friendship with the author Bill Martin, which encouraged him to pursue illustration. In 1967 they published their first collaboration, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, as well as latterly Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? (1991), Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? (2003) and Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? ( 2007) In 1968 he published his first self-written and illustrated book, 1, 2, 3, to the Zoo, which was followed by the award-winning book that made him famous the next year, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Carle wrote and illustrated more than 70 books, using his signature medium of tissue-paper collage to create brightly coloured pictures, mostly of children, animals, and nature. His work became such a pronounced international success that in 2018 it was announced that Penguin Young Readers was launching World of Eric Carle, an imprint that would release books only by the author-illustrator. As such he was recipient of numerous awards and honours, including the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2001), the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the Association for Library Service to Children of the American Library Association (2003), the NEA Foundation Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education (2007), and the Original Art Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Illustrators, New York (2010). In 2002 Eric Carle and his wife opened the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, housing much of his own work as well as the work of children’s book illustrators from around the world.

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