The Very Hungry Caterpillar Picture Book

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

SHORTCOMING

Hungry caterpillar is hungry.

DESIRE

A caterpillar’s life is simple. He wants food.

OPPONENT

The Very Hungry Caterpillar 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.) Stuck by Oliver Jeffers is another example, in which the opponent is a tree.

PLAN

He started to look for some food.

He ate a bunch of food.

BIG STRUGGLE

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

ANAGNORISIS

…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 SITUATION

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.

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