The children's author also wrote and illustrated classics like The Very Busy Spider, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse.

By Ashley Boucher
May 27, 2021
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Eric Carle
Eric Carle
| Credit: Jonathan Wiggs/Getty Images

Eric Carle, author and illustrator of the iconic children's book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, has died. He was 91.

Publisher Penguin Kids announced Carle's death on Twitter, Wednesday.

"It is with heavy hearts that we share that Eric Carle, author & illustrator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and many other beloved classics, passed away on May 23 at the age of 91," their statement read.

"Thank you for sharing your great talent with generations of young readers," Penguin Kids' tweet continued, adding the hashtag, "#RememberingEricCarle."

Carle's son Rolf told the New York Times that his father died Sunday at his summer studio in Northampton, Massachusetts, of kidney failure.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar was first published in 1969, and in the decades since has sold more than 55 million copies and been translated into more than 70 languages.

Other beloved titles from Carle include The Very Busy Spider, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse.

Carle's incredible collection of work has earned him a variety of accolades, including the Children's Literature Legacy Award in 2003 (then called the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award) by the American Library Association for his major contributions to children's literature. Other accolades include the 1999 Regina Medal, the 2007 NEA Foundation Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education and the 2010 Original Art Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Illustrators.

In a 2019 interview marking the 50th anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Carle said that the resonant story is one of "hope."

"It took me a long time, but I think it is a book of hope. Children need hope," he told Penguin Random House at the time. "You — little insignificant caterpillar — can grow up into a beautiful butterfly and fly into the world with your talent."

"'Will I ever be able to do that?' Yes, you will. I think that is the appeal of that book," he said.

Carle maintained an active Twitter account, where he would often share his art to mark holidays and wish his readers and followers well.

On Wednesday, his team announced his death with a mournful statement on the account.

"From the Eric Carle Team: It is with heavy hearts that we share that Eric Carle, author & illustrator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and many other beloved classics, passed away on 23rd at the age of 91," the statement said. "Thank you for sharing your talent with generations of young readers."

This story originally appeared on people.com