Eric Carle Tributes Flood In After 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' Author Dies Aged 91

Tributes poured in for Eric Carle late Wednesday, after the author of best-selling children's book The Very Hungry Caterpillar passed away aged 91.

Carle's son Rolf told the New York Times that his father died last Sunday at his summer studio in Northampton, Massachusetts, of kidney failure.

A statement released on Carle's Twitter account read: "It is with heavy hearts that we share that Eric Carle, author & illustrator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and many other beloved classics, passed away on 23rd at the age of 91.

"Thank you for sharing your talent with generations of young readers."

The announcement prompted a flood of tributes on Twitter from a number of high-profile figures, including Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

She wrote: "Eric Carle's books have been a treasure for generations of children in Massachusetts and around the world.

"My heart goes out to his loved ones, his countless fans, and to the @carlemuseum in Amherst that will carry on his memory."

"Rest In Peace, Eric Carle," tweeted Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline. "A brilliant educator, illustrator, and author whose work continues to teach and inspire young people around the world today."

New Jersey Congressman Andy Kim posted a snapshot of his son's pajama top, as he wrote: "I just saw the news of Eric Carle's death and then saw the PJs my 5 yr old happened to choose for tonight.

"Thank you Mr. Carle for giving us the gift of the Very Hungry Caterpillar. Millions of us know it by heart and will never forget your words."

Sharing her memories from his most popular book, writer Nnedi Okorafor stated: "The Very Hungry Caterpillar was the first book I ever read. I remember the moment when the letters went from gibberish to making sense.

"It was magical. Of course it was a colorful little book about a ravenous bug that kicked it into gear for me. Thank you, Eric Carle."

"RIP Eric Carle," said author Anna Fitzpatrick. "I love this illustration from an early draft of The Very Hungry Caterpillar back when it was called A Week with Willie Worm."

Also paying tribute, writer Anne T. Donohue tweeted: "Eric Carle was a beautiful genius, and I'll love his work forever. RIP and thank you."

Author and illustrator Rob Biddulph shared a colorful image of a butterfly as he wrote: "RIP Eric Carle. One of the very best."

Born in Syracuse, New York, before moving to his parents' native Germany in the mid-1930s, Carl began writing children's books when he was in his late 30s.

His most popular book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar—telling the story of a ravenous member of the order Lepidoptera—has sold over 50 million copies since its release in 1969.

In total, he wrote more than 70 books, which have sold over 170 million copies around the world.

Along with his wife Barbara Morrison, Carle founded the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 2002.

He told PBS that year of his decision to launch the museum: "If you went to a bookstore, children's books would usually be in some corner. They were rarely reviewed, and if they were reviewed, usually on the last page.

"But in the meantime, picture books are being appreciated, and there are several picture book galleries in this country, and they now demand very high prices even."

Author and illustrator Eric Carle
Eric Carle draws during his reading to children of excerpts from his book at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York Presbyterian October 1, 2007 in New York City. The esteemed author and illustrator passed away on May 23, 2021. Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images