Eric Carle, author and illustrator of children’s books including perennial best-seller “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” spoke at the Graduate School of Education last Thursday. Now 81 years old, he recounted stories from his childhood in Germany during World War II and the role of that “world of grey” in forming his love for color. FM caught up with Carle for a few questions.
Fifteen Minutes: What were your favorite bugs or animals as a kid?
Eric Carle: I didn’t have a favorite. I just in general liked crawly things, looking under rocks watching ants. I remember my father explaining to me the life of bees. They all became my favorites.
FM: What can children teach us?
EC: Listen to them. That’s it. Listen to what they feel, what they wish for, what they’re afraid of.
FM: I understand you see the transition from the comfort of home to school as a scary time for children. How do you address this in your books?
EC: I hope that my books make it a little easier, make learning easier, whether that’s before the kids start school, after they’ve started school, or whenever they first encounter my books.
FM: What scared you as a child? What scares you now?
EC: What scared me were the bombs, being shot at in the war. What scares me now is the politics of this country. The two parties not getting along, being so hostile to each other.
FM: What inspires you?
EC: Beauty, art excites me. Simple things excite me. I have two houses; one is overlooking mountains, the Blue Ridge mountains. I can sit there for hours and just look at the hill. My other house is on the ocean; I can just look at the waves, the sunshine, the clouds. Things of that nature—they fulfill me and make me very happy.