Eric Carle (1929 – 2021)

Author and illustrator Eric Carle we born on June 25th, 1929, in Syracuse, New York.

His parents were German immigrants, and when he was six, his family moved back to Germany to quell his mother’s homesickness. At the beginning of World War II, his father was drafted into the German Army and taken prisoner by the Soviet forces, finally returning home physically and psychologically broken. The young Carle, who was 15, was sent to dig trenches on the Siegfried Line. In their hometown of Stuttgart, their house was the only one left standing, although barely.

After the War, he studied typography and graphic art at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart. He graduated in 1950 and returned to the United States in 1952 with just $40. He got a job as a graphic designer for The New York Times.

In 1953 he married Dorothea Wohlenberg, and they had two children, Rolf and Cirsten. The couple later divorced.

During the Korean War, he was drafted into the Army and stationed in Germany as a mail clerk. After the War, he returned to his job at the Times, where he became art director for advertising.

Author Bill Martin Jr. noticed his illustrations and asked Carle to collaborate on a picture book. The result was Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?, published by Henry Holt & Co. in 1967. It became a best-seller and is still a classic. Carle began writing and illustrating his own stories, publishing 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo, and just two years later released his best-known work - The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1969). The book eventually sold 55 million copies.

During his career, he published more than 70 books. His illustrative collage style is distinctive, created by pasting painted pieces of tissue paper to illustration board. In 2003 he received the prestigious Laura Ingalls Wilder Award.

In 1973 he married Barbara Morrison, a Montessori teacher, with whom he opened The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in 2002 in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Eric Carle died on May 23rd, 2021, while at his summer studio in Northhampton, Massachusetts. He was 91

Books by Eric Carle