by Eric Carle. (Philomel, 1981. ISBN 9780399208539. Order Info.) Picture Book. 32 pages. Grades PreK-1.
In this classic picture book first published in 1969, a caterpillar hatches, eats, spins a cocoon, and emerges as a butterfly. Cut-outs in the pages make this a three dimensional picture book involving the concept of counting as well as that of metamorphosis. Although the food eaten by the caterpillar is more human than insect fare, the unfolding of the butterfly adds drama to the tale for the very young.
Carle's technique of using layers of tissue paper which he sometimes paints or colors on in effect creates his own paper. This he then cuts out and pastes on a white background. His images are childlike but complex. His technique of cutting holes in the paper of varying sizes which, in later books, is combined with folded pages, besides adding depth and interest to his pages extends our concept of the picture book as being a rectangular, predictable shape.
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