Drawing on bug appeal Author, author

August 02, 1998

In "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," "The Grouchy Ladybug" and "The Very Busy Spider," author and illustrator Eric Carle makes insects appealing. Here Carle answers some of the questions children write to him.

Why do you use small creatures in your books most of the time? When I was a small boy, my father would take me on walks across meadows and through the woods. He would lift a stone or peel back the bark of a tree and show me the living things that scurried about. I think in my books I honor my father by writing about small living things. ...

What comes first, the story or the pictures? To me, pictures need writing, and writing needs pictures. A child once called me a picture writer, and that's a good way to describe me. It is the idea that comes first.

How do you make your pictures? My pictures are collages. Many children have done collages at home or in their classrooms. ...

I begin with plain tissue paper and paint it with different colors, using acrylics. Sometimes I paint with a wide brush, sometimes with a narrow brush. ... Sometimes I paint with my fingers. Or I paint on a piece of carpet, sponge, or burlap and then use that like a stamp on my tissue papers.

Let's say I want to create a caterpillar: I cut out a circle for the head from a red tissue paper and many ovals for the body from green tissue papers; and then I paste them with wallpaper glue onto an illustration board. ...

Where do your ideas come from? Parents, teachers, feelings, surroundings, experiences, dreams, likes and dislikes, things you've seen and heard, even your wishes.

- From The Caterpillar Express, Eric Carle's newsletter to young readers

Pub Date: 8/02/98

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