Beloved children’s author and illustrator Eric Carle has died at age 91. According to a statement issued on behalf of the family by Penguin Young Leaders and reported by NBC News, Carle died Sunday at his Northhampton, MA summer studio. He died surrounded by his family.
Carle was married to special educator Barbara “Bobbie” Carle until her death in 2015. Together, the pair founded the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.
Carle began his children’s book career when he was almost 40-years-old. He got his start in 1967, illustrating Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? for his friend Bill Martin Jr. In the 50+ years of working in the field, he illustrated over 70 books for children, per NPR. He is perhaps most well known for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which Carle wrote and illustrated in 1969. Critics have noted that Carle’s best known work is about hunger, a pain the illustrator knew well from his childhood in World War 2 era Germany. Carle called it “a book of hope” in a 1994 New York Times interview. “You, too, can grow up and grow wings.”