Eric Carle - The Very Hungry Caterpillar
A caterpillar - who from here on in shall be known by his hip hop name, Cat P – has a somewhat eventful week.
Sunday: Born today. Fair effort.
Monday: Ate 1 apple. Still hungry.
Tuesday: Ate 2 pears. Made a joke about having to eat a pair of pears, but had no friends to tell it to. Still hungry.
Wednesday: Ate 3 plums. Laughed at the word ‘plums.’ Still hungry.
Thursday: Ate 4 strawberries. Had no access to cream or lady caterpillars. Still hungry.
Friday: Ate 5 oranges. Still hungry, but no longer at risk of contracting scurvy.
Saturday: Ate 1 piece of chocolate cake, 1 ice cream cone (illustrations show that there was in fact ice cream inside the cone at the time), 1 pickle, 1 slice of swiss cheese (this has holes in it, so it doesn’t really count), 1 slice of salami, 1 lollipop, 1 piece of cherry pie, 1 sausage, 1 cupcake, 1 slice of watermelon, and a partridge in a pear tree (interestingly, not the same pear tree that the pair of pears came from). Got a stomach ache.
Sunday: Ate 1 leaf. Stomach settled and obesity acknowledged. Went to sleep. Woke up as a butterfly.
The story sounds simple enough, but what effect is it really having on our children? Or your children, because I don’t have any children. Or all of us, back when we was a children?
Issue 1: Is ‘very’ a good enough word to describe how hungry the caterpillar was?
Issue 2: Is this story responsible for childhood obesity?
Well, there seem to be many contributing factors to childhood obesity, so who can really say for sure that this book has had any impact? Me, I can. And yes, it is singlehandedly 100% unquestionably responsible for the little fatty boombahs. It’s surprising that religious groups never jumped on Cat P for being a filthy, no good, sinning glutton. There you go, religious nuts. You can have that one for free. If you require any more issues to sensationalise, leave the money in a sports bag under the slide of the playground down the road from my house. And cookies. Leave cookies. Chocolate ones. None of that oatmeal bull.
Issue 3: Why is the caterpillar so hungry?
One would assume that the everyday common caterpillar wouldn’t have such an extreme appetite, and why Cat P is the exception to this rule is never explained to us. Is it possible that his hunger is a metaphor for something? Is Cat P really trying to fill his stomach, or is he perhaps trying to fill his heart? When referring to the beginning of the story, the reader can’t help but notice that mama and papa Cat P weren’t hanging around when he hatched out of his egg. Does our protagonist have abandonment issues? Yes. Yes he does.
Issue 4: where is all this food coming from?
I don’t know. But if there’s free cake and ice cream, I want to live there.