The Very Happy Caterpillar

Celebrating the anniversary of Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar at our Children's Library |

I have been waiting for a full year to have our decor at the Children’s Library be Eric Carle-ized. When I started working at the Children’s Library, one of the very first things I wanted to do with our front door/windows was have the butterfly from The Very Hungry Caterpillar stretched out across its entire length. So when I was trying to find an excuse (not that I really needed one) for this particular decor, I discovered that April 2014 would be the 45th anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s publication. Therefore I would have to wait a year and then strike with my vision. I HATE WAITING. But wait I did, and the wait was worth it.

I even prepared for this during last year’s Summer Reading Program. When I purchased the paper lanterns for our large tree, I also purchased a red one that would serve as the caterpillar’s head for our large caterpillar.

But enough about my excitement and long wait to have fun with Eric Carle’s style. I bet you’re wanting to see pictures. At least I know that would be reading this going “get on with it and show me the pictures!”


Here’s what it looks like when you walk into our front doors (and many children have gasped and hollered excitedly about the giant caterpillar that greets them – but we can’t blame them, he’s pretty cool):

The Very Hungry Caterpillar decor at the Children's Library |

And a side view of the caterpillar so you can see it a little better (it’s how we see him from behind the circulation desk):

The Very Hungry Caterpillar decor at the Children's Library. A giant caterpillar made of paper lanterns. |

Brittany and I worked on getting the caterpillar up. I did the head, the eyes/mouth, she did the antennae and the body. She put that body up so quickly I was in awe (it would’ve taken me at least twice as long).

And do you see the food in the background? Here’s another shot:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar decor at the Children's Library. Hole-y food hanging from the ceiling. |

That’s all the amazing Mary’s work. There would have been even more and bigger food, but the local store had a very limited supply of the foam core sheets that she needed. They were half the size we wanted, but she made do, and they still look awesome. She used tissue paper and paint just like Carle. They are absolutely cheery and wonderful when they twirl in the air currents.

Mary also did a marvelous job of making my original butterfly vision come to life. I must add a disclaimer that my photography skills were not up to the task of capturing her artwork. This was the best that I could do:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar decor at the Children's Library. The transformed caterpillar greets and says goodbye to the children at the front door. |

She used a mixture of solid and transparent window markers in her creation, and it is absolutely lovely and ethereal. Depending on how the light hits it, it’s either easier to see it from the outside or the inside. So every-once-in-a-while a parent exclaims about seeing the butterfly for the first time when they leave (which is pretty dramatically cool since it flows with the book’s story).

For this month’s passive activity I put together a “Big Fat Caterpillar” scavenger hunt. I used every single one of the items from the book that the caterpillar eats and created a written checklist (again, trying to help kids with literacy skills). I’m sorry that I won’t be reproducing it for y’all since I did use imagery from the book itself. But this is what it looks like:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar decor at the Children's Library. A passive scavenger hunt for the nommed-on food. |

I tried to also include the answers to questions that we could foresee many children asking – mainly that no, the hanging food items do not count. Even with that information on every worksheet page, even parents have asked us if the hanging food counts. Oy.

We printed out pictures of each food item onto cardstock, cut them out (including the holes), and then did the “packing tape lamination” technique. They look quite snazzy and have held up when young fingers pull them up (they’re stuck down with sticky tack), and bring them to us.

We also keep an answer key up at the desk to help give clues since we change the items’ locations weekly. And there are sixteen items. Through this process we’ve really realized how very little some of our most regular patrons know their way around the library. We say to look near our new easy reader books, or our graphic novels, and we get blank stares. We’ll tell them which aisle (they have three options) and then sometimes we do the hot/cold game.

Every month I create a coloring sheet featuring our library’s mascot Booker T. Dragon. We put them out on our activity tables with a sign explaining that if you color a sheet and want to share it online, then bring it to a librarian and we’ll scan it in (and then give it back to you). We pick one coloring sheet a week to put on the front page of our kids’ site, and the rest go into our Art Gallery. It’s pretty popular.

I don’t always share my coloring sheets with y’all since they’re okay, and not really something I’d imagine you’d want to use. But I’m especially fond of this month’s sheet and thought it share-worthy (it’s also a little bit disturbing, but that’s the sort of thing I enjoy. Yes I have issues). Here it is:

The Very Hungry Dragonpillar - this month's coloring sheet that goes with The Very Hungry Caterpillar theme |

The final touch to our decor was sneaking the caterpillar onto our vinyl wall logo:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar decor at the Children's Library. The very sneaky caterpillar joins our library's mascot on our giant wall decal. |

I’m only aware of two children who have spotted our sneaky caterpillar (a pair of sisters who were super-excited to show their grandma). It’s subtle, but I really love how it looks like Booker’s gazing at him. The little caterpillar may have to take up residency at my desk once we switch over to May’s decor.

There you have it! Our The Very Hungry Caterpillar themed-month. Next month will be Mary’s last full month with us (she’s moving on – literally moving ::instantly goes into defensive and aggressive state of denial::), and I gave her complete creative control of the decor. I’ve seen her sketch and lemme tell you – it is frickin’ adorable.

4 thoughts on “The Very Happy Caterpillar

  1. Well done – it looks wonderful and was definitely worth the planning and hard work! I love the scavenger hunt and the way you move the food around each week. I wish our library had a clever ceiling like that.

    • Thank you very much!

      Honestly, that ceiling is a blessing and a curse. It’s a joy to hang things from and it’s cheery, but it does NOT buffer the sound, and the pipes will drip condensation in the summer when we run the A/C.

  2. Well, I’ve been waiting a long time to do this, but I can finally put up a Hungry Caterpillar! Our Teen Advisory Group kids made the caterpillar food as part of their Hungry Caterpillar play, and our director wanted to keep their fantastic props, but we needed a caterpillar. Internet-Addicted-Library-Assistant to the rescue!

    Thank you so much for being such an inspiration to me. :D

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