The Late, Great Eric Carle

“I believe that children are naturally creative and eager to learn. I want to show them that learning is really both fascinating and fun.” (Eric Carle)

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Eric Carle display, Johnsonville Library. Image: Lara van der Raaij

Eric Carle, author and illustrator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and many other much loved classics, passed away a couple of days ago at the age of 91.

Eric was born in Syracuse, USA in 1929 but moved with his parents to Germany when he was six years old. He went to school and university in Germany but in 1952, as an adult, he decided to return to New York. Eric became a graphic designer at The New York Times newspaper and later an art director of an advertising agency. It was the graphics on an advertisement that Eric had created that caught the eye of Bill Martin Jr, author of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? who asked Eric to illustrate this now famous book.

This was the beginning of Eric Carle’s true career and soon he was writing his own stories, too. His first wholly original book was 1,2,3 to the Zoo, followed soon afterward by the celebrated classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Eric’s Art & Words

Eric Carle’s art is distinctive and instantly recognisable. His artwork is created in collage technique, using hand-painted papers, which he cuts and layers to form bright and cheerful images. The themes of Eric Carle’s stories are usually drawn from his extensive knowledge and love of nature. Besides being beautiful and entertaining, his books always offer the opportunity to learn something about the world around and to connect us to the simple things of life, and how to overcome our fears.

Check out Eric’s unique and effective artistic technique HERE

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Book Jacket for: Te anuhe tino hiakaiBook Jacket for: Khubaja bhukyo keḍarapilara = The very hungry caterpillarBook Jacket for: al-Yaraqah al-jāʼiʻah jidan = The very hungry caterpillar

Although Eric Carle wrote and illustrated over 70 books in his lifetime, The Very Hungry Caterpillar stands out for many fans as a favourite. This much-loved classic was first published in 1969, and has gone on to sell around 55 million copies worldwide! It has also been translated into 60 languages. The idea for the format of the book came from playing around with a hole punch and thinking of a worm eating its way through a book. The rest, as they say, is history!

Here’s a short clip of Eric himself sharing his thoughts for the 45th Anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (2014):


You can immerse yourself in the beauty of Eric Carle’s many books at Wellington City Libraries:

Eric Carle’s book of many things. / Carle, Eric
“Very young children will delight in the vocabulary in this colourful book- filled with familiar and some not-so-well-known aspects of the world.”–Cataloguer.” (Catalogue)

A house for Hermit Crab / Carle, Eric
” Poor Hermit Crab! He’s outgrown his snug little shell and has to find a new home. And he does, with help from some friends who make the move less scary. Children facing change in their own lives will relate to Hermit Crab’s story and learn a lot about the fascinating world of marine life along the way. ” (Catalogue, abridged)

The grouchy ladybug / Carle, Eric
“A grouchy ladybug, looking for a fight, challenges everyone she meets regardless of their size or strength.” (Catalogue, abridged)

Have you seen my cat? / Carle, Eric
“A young boy encounters all sorts of cats while searching for the one he lost. Suggested level: junior, primary.” (Catalogue)

The very lonely firefly / Carle, Eric
“A lonely firefly goes out into the night searching for other fireflies.” (Catalogue)

From head to toe / Carle, Eric
“Creatures move their bodies in lots of different ways – just like people. Try wriggling and jiggling as you try to keep up with these animals.” (Catalogue)

Mister Seahorse / Carle, Eric
“After Mrs. Seahorse lays her eggs on Mr. Seahorse’s belly, he drifts through the water, greeting other fish fathers who are taking care of their eggs. Suggested level: junior, primary.” (Catalogue)

The Nonsense Show / Carle, Eric
“Ducks growing out of bananas? A mouse catching a cat? What’s wrong with this book? Yes, there’s something strange, something funny, and even downright preposterous on every page of this book. But it’s not a mistake–it’s nonsense! And it’s also surrealism” (Catalogue)

Become an Environmental Scientist with the City Nature Challenge!

Finish off the school holidays in environmental style by taking part in the City Nature Challenge this weekend! From Friday 30 April to Monday 3 May, Wellington will be transformed into a giant nature playground — and you will be turned into scientists, should you choose to take up the challenge of embarking on a four-day bioblitz!

WCC gardener photographing a plant using the iNaturalist app at a Wellington City garden.

Nate Rigler, WCC gardener, investigating some local flora! Photo credit: Tim Park.

So what is the City Nature Challenge? It’s a global event that sees people from over 250 cities across the world search for, report, and log any sightings of wild plants, creatures, or organisms, living or dead, on the land, up the mountains, and in the sea — and around our backyards.

It’s super easy to get involved using the iNaturalist app (free on the app store). Join the Wellington City Nature Challenge group, go for a walk in the city (looking out for local flora and fauna as you go!) and when you spot something cool, upload it to the app. There are prizes to be won and a natural environment to be discovered, so pick up a flyer from your local library, or head over to the City Nature Challenge website, to find out more!

If nature is your kind of thing, Wellington City Libraries has a huge range of books and other resources on the topic. Use the following links to find books on our catalogue about various topics relating to the plants, animals, and environment of New Zealand — or use the Dewey Decimal numbers to help you search the shelves the next time you visit the library!

Here are some that you might find particularly useful as you participate in the City Nature Challenge this weekend:

New Zealand nature heroes / Candler, Gillian
“New Zealand Nature Heroes is designed to inspire and empower New Zealand kids to be naturalists and conservationists. Aimed at the 8-12 age range, the book features stories of 15 different nature heroes, people who, in the past, or currently, are working to protect and understand New Zealand’s natural world. These inspirational profiles are complemented with information about key animals, plants or habitats, and then each matched with an authentic activity that kids can do to make a difference.” (Catalogue)

A New Zealand nature journal / Morris, Sandra
“A New Zealand Nature Journal will teach you how to keep a nature journal to record your amazing discoveries. Have you ever noticed that ladybirds have different numbers of spots? Or that leaves can be pointed or round, long or short, soft or hard? There is so much to explore in the natural world. And keeping a nature journal is the best way to record all your amazing discoveries.” (Catalogue)

New Zealand birds in pictures / Chen, Kimball
“From the barely-visible wings of the flightless kiwi to the immense wingspan of the wandering albatross, New Zealand’s fragile island ecosystem is home to a diverse array of spectacular birds. Delve into the fascinating world of our feathered friends with author and wildlife photographer Kimball Chen. From intimate portraits of endangered creatures and their glamorous breeding plumage, to dramatic wide-angle birdscapes encompassing rugged sub-antarctic habitats, to magical fleeting encounters of birds courting and mating and hatching, Chen’s passion for nature shines with artistic and aesthetic photographs sure to pique a greater appreciation of New Zealand birds. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The life-size guide to insects & other land vertebrates of New Zealand / Crowe, Andrew
“Identifying New Zealand’s insects, spiders and other land invertebrates is made simple with this new guide. Over 300 life-size colour photographs make it fun for all the family to learn more about the natural world of New Zealand.” (Catalogue)

The life-size guide to native trees and other common plants of New Zealand’s native forest / Crowe, Andrew
“Identifying native trees and other common plants of New Zealand’s native forest can be fun for all the family with this new pictorial guide. Match leaves, flowers, seeds, berries and bark against beautiful, life-sized photographs for fast, accurate identification. Written by one of New Zealand’s foremost writers on native plants, The Life-Size Guide offers a new opportunity to explore and enjoy the natural world of our native plants.” (Catalogue)

Wildlife of Aotearoa / Bishop, Gavin
“Long before waka touched Aotearoa’s shores, the land of the long white cloud was home to an array of creatures uniquely adapted to its environments and protected by its isolation. Encounter New Zealand’s incredible wildlife in this spectacular visual exploration. Journey through ocean, sky and land to meet a marvellous range of organisms. Discover fascinating facts, and learn how we influence the survival of our living treasures. In this magnificent companion volume to Aotearoa- The New Zealand Story, Gavin Bishop weaves a compelling visual narrative of our land, our people and our wildlife – past, present and future.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Kids’ Club Review by Nardous: Wildlife of Aotearoa

Wildlife of Aotearoa / Bishop, Gavin

I learnt so much about the wildlife of New Zealand that I never knew before I read this book.I loved the illustrations they are accurate and beautiful. My favourite creature in this book is the blobfish because its ugly and eats whatever get in the way (we have alot in common).one of the most interesting fact I learnt from this book is that the first brown trout to hatch in New Zealand was in Christchurch in the 1860s.

5 stars

Reviewed by Nardous from Brooklyn and South Wellington Intermediate , 11 years old

Kids’ Club Review by Sadil: Wildlife of Aotearoa

Wildlife of Aotearoa / Bishop, Gavin

This is a book of the wildlife of New Zealand. There are about seabirds, whales and other creatures. New Zealand is the seabird capital of the world. This book has interesting things about animals. I recommend this book because we can learn the animals of Aotearoa.

5 stars

Reviewed by Sadil from Newtown and Kelburn Normal School , 7 years old

Kids’ Club Review by Mastani: Wildlife of Aotearoa

Wildlife of Aotearoa / Bishop, Gavin

I think Wildlife of Aotearoa is a fantastic book for everyone. I rate it 4 stars because it was very interesting, I learned a lot about animals and bugs in New Zealand. Also, the illustrations are amazing ant the size of the book makes it even more special. The part about the animals that got famous is my favorite part.

4 stars

Reviewed by Mastani from Miramar and Worser Bay School , 11 years old

Discover Wicked Bugs for Summer Holiday Fun!

The summer holidays are here – sunshine, barbeques, swimming, staying up late… and mosquitoes biting, flies buzzing around the cooked food, moths beating against your torch as you try to read at night, and crickets and cicadas making a racquet when you’re trying to sleep in you tent!  Anyone would think bugs were put here to ruin your summer fun!

But did you know that we humans wouldn’t survive on this big, beautiful planet without our friendly creepy-crawlies to help us along? At last count it is estimated that there are ten quintillion insects alive on Earth right now, which means that for each one of us, there are two hundred million of them! But don’t panic! They all have a job to do, and if you dig deeper (and many of them do live underground), what the insects do for us and the health of the planet is pretty amazing.

File:Cook Strait Giant Weta (5601688959).jpg - Wikimedia CommonsTake New Zealand’s GIANT WĒTĀ (wētāpunga) for example. This big daddy of an insect features in the Guinness Book of Records as being one of the world’s largest insects, and some of them weigh in around 70 grams – about the same weight as a saddleback or sparrow! Department of Conservation staff refer to them as the ‘mouse of the forest’ because their equally giant poos help fertilise the forest floor and help with regeneration of native bush. What a hero! And the Auckland Zoo think so too and have joined forces with DoC and local iwi to reintroduce wētāpunga to islands in the Hauraki Gulf so that they can do their fertilising work and bring back the bush.

And just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder, did you know that the wētā’s ears are located in their knees?! Yes, really!


File:Chorus Cicada... (6926902643).jpg - Wikimedia CommonsYou really know Summer has arrived when the CICADAS start their noise! But why do they do it? And how?

The high-pitched ‘song’ is actually a mating call belted out by males. Each species has its own distinctive song that only attracts females of its own kind. This allows several different species to live together in one area.

Cicadas are the only insects capable of producing such a unique and loud sound, and they do it by contracting special muscles called tymbals in their abdomen. Some larger species can produce a call in excess of 120 decibels at close range (120 decibels is the equivalent of a thunderclap or a chainsaw)! Smaller species sing in such a high pitch that it cannot be heard by humans, but may cause dogs and other animals to howl in pain.


File:Housefly on Table.jpg - Wikimedia CommonsWe’ve all experienced the FLIES massing as soon as the barbeque is cooking and the salads are out on the picnic table. But why do they do this? The common house fly has a pretty powerful sense of smell and is attracted to strong smells – especially meat, and especially rotting meat! They like to lay their eggs in rotting material so that when their babies – maggots – hatch they have something to eat, yum! But just like the rest of us, adult flies have to eat too so that they’ve got the energy to fly. To eat their food, flies regurgitate (bring up) saliva from their stomachs, which dissolves the food until it is digestible. The house fly then uses its proboscis – like an attached straw where your nose should be – to suck up the liquefied food. Though they eat with their mouths, house flies taste with their feet. This is why they are always crawling on your food.

Lego Weta by EzraCRITTER OF THE WEEK: To tweak you interest further, check out “Critter of the Week”  on Radio New Zealand every Thursday in Afternoons with Jessie Mulligan.  Nicola Toki is the Threatened Species Ambassador for the Department of Conservation and a self-confessed “nature nerd”. Each week she talks  about a lovable member of New Zealand’s wildlife community, many of them our creepy-crawly friends. There was even a competition earlier in the year for you to make the most interesting critter out of Lego and send in a photo. Check out some of the entries here.

“An understanding of the natural world is a source of not only great curiosity, but great fulfilment.”

(David Attenborough – natural historian, environmentalist and planet-hero)



Wellington City Libraries have loads of fantastic books about insects, creepy-crawlies and the people that study insects (entomologists). Take a dive into the fascinating world of bugs… go on! There’s nothing to be afraid of!

The genius of bugs / Pollard, Simon
This book contains a cast of amazing and unexpected bugs, from the killer brain-surgeon jewel wasp to the master-of-disguise orchid mantis, to the New Zealand favourite, the wētā.

 


New Zealand’s backyard beasts / Barraud, Ned
In the garden, creeping along branches, hiding under stones or flitting from flower to flower, a whole universe of creatures is waiting to be discovered. Butterflies, moths, beetles, wasps, spiders. Did you know that  cicadas live underground for most of their life? That bumblebees have smelly feet? That some species of stick insect are all female? Or that earwigs don’t actually crawl into ears? In this book you can learn to identify some of the creatures most commonly found in the backyard.


The bug girl : (a true story) / Spencer, Sophia
Real-life 7-year-old Sophia Spencer was bullied for loving bugs until hundreds of women scientists rallied around her. Sophia tells her inspiring story in this picture book that celebrates women in science, bugs of all kinds, and the importance of staying true to yourself. Sophia Spencer has always loved bugs but when she was bullied at school she stopped talking about bugs altogether. When Sophia’s mother wrote to an entomological society looking for a bug scientist to be a pen pal for her daughter, she and Sophie were overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response–letters, photos, and videos came flooding in. Using the hashtag BugsR4Girls, scientists tweeted hundreds of times to tell Sophia to keep up her interest in bugs.


World's Biggest Baddest Bugs (Ruud Kleinpaste) Image at Mighty Ape NZWorld’s biggest baddest bugs
To find the good, the bad and ugly of the insect world, Ruud Kleinpaste – New Zealand’s very own BugMan – embarks on an entomological journey in search of the biggest and the baddest of them all in this two part DVD. From killer bees and army ants, to cockroaches and tarantula, Ruud explains exactly what makes the “stars” of the show so incredible. Through a series of deadly stunts Ruud reveals what makes these crawlies the kings of the bugs and how they are capable of so much more than just scaring us silly.


World’s strangest creepy-crawlies / Derrick, Stuart
This book includes 40 of the planet’s most bizarre species and ranks them in order of their oddness! With jaw-dropping facts and amazing photos, the pages reveal each creature’s seriously strange characteristics and the unusual ways they hunt, eat or defend themselves.   Inside World’s Strangest Creepy-Crawlies, you’ll discover the tiny terror that blows itself up to save its friends, a creature so well disguised even its own species can’t see it, and a giant spider the size of a dinner plate. And with the ‘strange-o-meter’, you can compare each animal based on its creepiness, fight factor and superpowers!


I’m trying to love spiders : (it isn’t easy) / Barton, Bethany
What do you do when you see a spider? a. Lay on a BIG spidey smoocheroo. b. Smile, but back away slowly. c. Grab the closest object, wind up, and let it fly. d. Run away screaming.
If you chose b, c, or d, then this book is for you.
I’m Trying to Love Spiders will help you see these amazing arachnids in a whole new light, from their awesomely excessive eight eyes, to the seventy-five pounds of bugs a spider can eat in a single year And you’re sure to feel better knowing you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than being fatally bit by a spider. Comforting, right? No? Either way, there’s heaps more information in here to help you forget your fears . . . or at least laugh a lot!