Children’s Book Recommendations - June 2021

In memory of Eric Carle (June 1929 – May 2021)

Do you know the difference between a chrysalis and a cocoon? When he wrote The Very Hungry Caterpillar (in 1969), Eric Carle presumably didn’t! Yet the book became a key text in nurseries, where it is still used to introduce the life cycle, days of the week, numbers, colours, and more.

Not all of Carle’s (over 70) books feature tiny holes and cut-away pages, which were novel in their day. But he found numerous other ways to stimulate a child. The following titles – chosen for their originality and educational value – give an idea of his scope.


The Mixed-Up Chameleon (1975) 2+

While visiting a zoo, the chameleon takes on the characteristics of each of the animals he admires. But do his transformations make him happy? This is a comic story with an important message.


Papa, please get the moon for me (1986) 2+

Monica wants to play with the moon and fortunately, she has an obliging father. This book is delightfully unpredictable, stunningly illustrated and innovative in its design. It provides a memorable introduction to the phases of the moon and to the idea of renewal in nature.


A House for Hermit Crab (1987) 2+

Carle’s exploration of the sea floor is linguistically and visually stimulating. Having outgrown his shell, crab ventures out to find another, which he then decorates, before handing it on. The book conveys the interrelatedness of marine life, whilst reinforcing the order of the months. At heart though, it is about learning to cope with change.


The Very Lonely Firefly (1995) 1+

By following the firefly on its adventure, a child will discover light in all its many, magical forms. This is also a useful allegory for the child who is nervous about starting school. Visually, the book is a treat: the firework scene – created using a collage of printed papers – is particularly stunning.


From Head to Toe (1997) 1+

This simple, interrogative book encourages a toddler to ape different animal movements. The activity will help with coordination and balance, whilst enabling children to let off steam! Should this type of book appeal, try ‘Doing the Animal Bop!’ For slightly older children (3+) see ‘Flora and the Flamingo.’



Eric Carle: A Big Box of Little Books

Nine chunky board books featuring Eric Carle’s animals. Together they form a Hungry Caterpillar puzzle.