The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

In honour of British Science Week we’ve decided to review The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Children are never too young to enjoy a book and never too young to start learning about science. And what better way to strike wonder into small minds than this beautiful story about the amazing transformation of a creature in our natural world?


This is a classic children’s book, published by Puffin, it is still hugely popular 47 years after it was first published. Starting as just a small egg in the moonlight, we follow the journey of the little caterpillar as it eats and eats and eats before building a chrysalis and emerging as a butterfly.

The book has a lovely pace that starts with the caterpillar eating one apple on Monday. As each day passes it eats one more item building up to eating a huge and gluttonous feast by Saturday. The growing appetite and size of the caterpillar is reflected in the size of the pages with Monday’s page being a small slither and each day the page growing a little bigger.


The illustrations are iconic of Carle’s work with blocks of colours in different shades giving each image a wonderful texture. There are many versions of this book, we have the small board book which is great for little hands turning the pages. It has a lovely tactile element to it with holes through each item of food as though the caterpillar has nibbled its way through the book too! My boy likes to poke his fingers through the holes and I pretend to nibble them or pinch them on the other side which always makes him laugh. On the last page the caterpillar is now a butterfly and the picture almost straddles the spine so there is a wing on each page, I always half open and close the book at this page to give the effect of the butterfly fluttering.

This is a bit of a special book for us, it’s the first book we bought for bigger boy when I was still pregnant with him and we used to read it to my bump. He’s always loved it and now our new baby boy is enjoying it as well.

One of the great things about this book is that within a beautifully simple story there are countless opportunities to learn more, ask questions and discover. You can cover so much with your little ones with this book as a starting point – colours, counting, days of the week, recognising foods, healthy heating, butterfly life cycle – to name a few. There are also hundreds of activities you can do following on from this story – painting, building a caterpillar from play doh/ egg boxes/ yogurt pots (anything really!) tasting the foods from the story, going out to look for caterpillars and butterflies… Google and pinterest will give you a great selection.

Here’s a couple of ideas that we have done. In our World Book Day post I shared a picture of my baby boy dressed as the caterpillar and served him up a plate of the different fruits to try.


At 8 months old I didn’t think he was ready to taste all the foods that the caterpillar eats on the Saturday!

My bigger boy has just started really enjoying painting so the other day we painted a hungry caterpillar picture with both boys creating parts of it. We talked about all the colours we needed and realised that we didn’t have any purple paint so we mixed colours together to make purple. Mixing colours on it’s own is a great activity to do with little ones.


Bigger boy set about making different sized and different coloured dots for the caterpillar…


And baby boy had fun getting his hands messy with yellow and orange paint to make the sun. He enjoyed it so much he accidentally ripped his paper in half!


We had lots of colourful, spotty paintings and left them to dry before cutting them out. (Bigger boy had found a big green leaf when we were out the other day and I was going to punch 5 holes in to it and add that to the picture too but my boy disagreed!)


Then, we stuck them all down to create our picture…


I thought it looked great and not a bad collaboration between a 3 year old and an 8 month old! We had such a lovely time together looking at the book, talking about it and painting. Priceless family time, all thanks to a children’s book.

British Science Week is running from the 11th – 20th March 2016. You can find out more here..

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