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A beloved member of the children’s literature canon has died.
Eric Carle, the author and illustrator of dog-eared classics such as “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” passed away May 23 at 91, his publisher, Penguin Kids, announced on Twitter.
His family also shared a brief memorial poem on his website: “In the light of the moon / holding on to a good star / a painter of rainbows / is now traveling across the night sky.”
No cause of death was listed.
Carle’s books, many of which centered on nature and animals in his recognizable graphic interpretations, were some of the top selling children’s books of all time.
“Thank you for sharing your great talent with generations of young readers. #RememberingEricCarle,” a tweet from Penguin Kids read on Wednesday, quickly racking up hundreds of likes from his devoted following.
Carle, who was born in Syracuse, NY, illustrated more than 70 children’s books across his career, which began when he was nearly 40, but followed a lifetime of art.
“I think it started with my father. He took me for long walks and explained things to me,” he told NPR in 2007 of his nature walks where the two would spot out the types of things that ended up the pages of his books — ladybugs, spider webs and bird nests, for example.
When his family moved to Germany just before the start of the second World War, he gained an appreciation for the explosion of colors that came to be his trademark.
“During the war, there were no colors,” he said. “Everything was gray and brown and the cities were all camouflaged with grays and greens and brown greens and gray greens or brown greens, and … there was no color.”
Other memorable titles Carle illustrated included “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See,” published in 1967 and of course his caterpillar classic, which he also wrote, in 1969.
Fans of Carle’s shared their memories and condolences on Twitter when the news was announced Wednesday.
“Deeply saddened by this news,” wrote user @lafcreative. “He gave us all a truly vibrant view of our world through the wellspring of his creativity. My childhood was shaped by his work and the passion he created it with will forever be an inspiration.Grateful for the legacy of his unique art & joyful spirit.”
“Thank you Eric Carle! We just watched your Mister Rogers episode a few days ago and it was wonderful. Thank you for all of your beautiful work,” wrote @ingridmeilan.
“Can’t even count how many times I read his books to my kiddos,” remembered @LoriSamuels18.
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