Along with others such as Goodnight Moon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar makes for an excellent case study into how simple can equal super-popular.

THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

 

I like this book because of its subtle healthy-eating message. So many picture books rely upon stock yuck, but here it’s the green food that saves the caterpillar.

STORY STRUCTURE OF THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

WEAKNESS/NEED

Hungry caterpillarĀ is hungry.

DESIRE

He wants food.

OPPONENT

This is a good example of a children’s story in which we might say ‘nature’ is the opponent. (That’s not true in many stories for adults, unless you’re talking about a disaster story.)

PLAN

He started to look for some food.

He ate a bunch of food.

BATTLE

He got a stomach ache, and in order to ‘win out’ he ate a nice green leaf.

SELF-REVELATION

…and after that he felt much better.

Now he wasn’t hungry any more — and he wasn’t a little caterpillar any more. He was a big fat caterpillar.

NEW EQUILIBRIUM

He built a small house, stayed there for a while and

he was a beautiful butterfly!

And if the story hadn’t ended there it wouldn’t be a children’s book any more.

Because we all know what happens next.