The Very Hungry Caterpillar remains one of the most read children's books in the UK and has sold over 36 million copies worldwide since its publication in 1969. The book has been translated into more than 55 languages, and has sold the equivalent of a copy per minute since its release.
Eric, now 80, talked to Parentdish about his famous red and green friend with the enormous appetite, and his other books, which include Do You Want To Be My Friend?, The Bad-Tempered Ladybird and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?.
What was your favourite book as a child?
I didn't have many books growing up, but I do have fond memories of sitting on my father's lap while he read the Sunday Funny pages to me. I particularly enjoyed Mickey Mouse and Flash Gordon.
What was your inspiration for The Very Hungry Caterpillar?
The idea for this story came to me while punching holes in a stack of paper. I thought of a book worm and first wrote a book called A Week with Willi Worm. My editor Ann Beneduce didn't like the idea of a worm so she suggested a caterpillar. Immediately I said 'butterfly!' and the rest is history.
How did you choose the foods the caterpillar eats and were there any you ditched because they were too disgusting or you had too many?
The food in my book came out of my imagination - perhaps entertaining that child inside of me.
The original storyline had a banana in it, but it wasn't used in the final edit.
Do you still get fan mail for The Very Hungry Caterpillar?
What's your favourite out of all the books you have written and illustrated?