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Literature / The Very Hungry Caterpillar

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A children's picture book written by Eric Carle and first published in 1969. Since then it's been a staple of many childhoods and been translated into over 50 languages.

It tells the story of a caterpillar who eats his way through a great deal of food before ultimately becoming a butterfly.

A game based on the book called "The Very Hungry Caterpillar's ABCs" has been available on WiiWare since September 2011.


The Very Hungry Caterpillar contains examples of:

  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: The butterfly that the titular caterpillar transforms into has extravagant rainbow-colored wings, something very few adult Lepidopteran specimens have, if any (and this is usually if they are toxic, such as the Madagascan Sunset Moth, whose bright colors warn predators that it is toxic to eat.)
  • Artistic License – Biology: The titular caterpillar pupates in what is called a "cocoon" before transforming into a butterfly. In real life, only moth caterpillars pupate in cocoons, whereas butterfly caterpillars pupate in chrysalises. Justified in that it's a fictional specimen, and that "chrysalis" could be a fairly complex word for little kids.
  • Big Eater: The titular caterpillar eats several times its own size in food over the course of a week.
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  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The book is about... a very hungry caterpillar!
  • Extreme Omnivore: The caterpillar eats a ludicrous amount of non-plant foods in a short period of time.
  • Green Around the Gills: In the animated special, the caterpillar turns a sickly shade of green by the end of its Saturday binge.
  • Short Story: The plot and prose is wafer thin and is only a few pages long.
  • Shown Their Work: Caterpillars really are big eaters (although they usually only eat one type of plant) before becoming chrysalises.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Incredibly Idealistic. Eric Carle himself said its "a book of hope... a way about growing up, how scary it is, but how you can fly into the world with your talents."
  • A Weighty Aesop: Saturday shows the consequences of eating unhealthy food, especially in large amounts, as the caterpillar ends up having a stomachache. On Sunday he eats one nice green leaf and feels much better afterwards.


Video Example(s):


The Very Hungry Caterpillar

"That night he had a stomach ache!"

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / GreenAroundTheGills

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