Modern classic and international bestselling children's book "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" celebrates 40th anniversary on March 20th

Author and illustrator Eric Carle's Beloved Book marks its 40th birthday on the first day of spring.

March 20, 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of Eric Carle's preschool classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Philomel Books; $21.99). Since its publication in 1969, 29 million copies of the book have sold worldwide and it has been published in over 45 languages. That year the book was also named one of the best children's books of the year by TheNew York Times, and it has since become a beloved, must-own classic.  Today, every 30 seconds, somewhere in the world, a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is sold.

To celebrate the anniversary of the little caterpillar that started it all, March 20th has been designated as "The Very Hungry Caterpillar Day." On this first day of spring, teachers, librarians, booksellers, and fans of the book are encouraged to read and celebrate the metamorphosis of this eager, insatiable caterpillar, whose mystical transformation has entertained and enchanted generation after generation of young readers. The Penguin Young Readers Group is also urging children across the country to send birthday cards to the iconic character.

"When The Very Hungry Caterpillar burst onto the scene in 1969, children instantly took to it. Was it the color? The texture? The littlest creature who turned into a beautiful butterfly? The fascinating die-cut holes in the pieces of food? Whatever it was, it was pure magic for children. Somehow the book seemed to be created by one of their own, just for them. The word 'classical' is bandied about by publishers, but The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a genuine classic -- for its art, its idea and spirit, and for its dear creator, too," said Patricia Gauch, editor-at-large of Philomel Books, and Mr. Carle's editor for over 23 years.

Eric Carle worked as a graphic designer at The New York Times and then as an art director at an advertising agency, where he was approached by educator and author Bill Martin Jr. to illustrate Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Soon after, Eric began creating his own stories: his first solo project was 1,2,3 to the Zoo. He followed this with The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Eric Carle commented, "I am delighted that for 40 years readers all over the world have enjoyed The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a story idea that came to me while I absentmindedly punched holes into a stack of papers. The story to me is one of hope, of how a small, defenseless creature can grow and change and ultimately spread its wings and fly. I hope The Very Hungry Caterpillar will continue to be enjoyed by children and parents, teachers and grandparents, and that its hopeful message will be remembered for many years to come."

The secret of Eric Carle's appeal lies in his intuitive understanding of and respect for children. Eric Carle's name has become synonymous with child education. A vast assortment of The World of Eric Carle merchandise licensed through Chorion -- including puzzles, board games, and toys based on his beloved characters -- take the educational benefits of Eric's ingenuity and artwork off the page.

In 2002, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art opened in Amherst, Massachusetts, which exhibits the joyous artistry of nationally and internationally known picture book artists. The first of its kind in the United States, Eric and Barbara Carle co-founded the museum after seeing many picture book art museums while visiting Japan. Since opening, the 40,000 square foot museum has welcomed more than 300,000 visitors.

This year, to celebrate both the anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Eric Carle's 80th birthday, the museum will host an exhibit celebrating all of Eric's art February 10, 2009 through August 2009.

Philomel Books will mark this milestone with a special edition of the story, The Very Hungry CaterpillarPop-Up Book (Hardcover/Pop-up Book; On Sale March 10, 2009; $29.99; 14 pages; Ages 3 up/PreS up), which will feature Eric's original illustrations in glorious three-dimensional form.

About the Author

Eric Carle (www.eric-carle.com) has illustrated more than seventy books, many best sellers, most of which he also wrote. To date, more than 88 million copies of his books have sold around the world. Eric Carle divides his time between the Florida Keys and the mountains of North Carolina.  Visit (www.carlemuseum.org) to find out more about the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA.

About Penguin

Penguin Group (USA) is the U.S. affiliate of the internationally renowned Penguin Group. Penguin Group (USA) is one of the leading U.S. adult and children's trade book publishers, owning a wide range of imprints and trademarks including Philomel Books, Berkley Books, Dutton, Frederick Warne, G. P. Putnam's Sons, Grosset & Dunlap, New American Library, Penguin, Plume, Puffin Books, Riverhead Books and Viking, among others. The Penguin Group is part of Pearson (FTSE: PSON; NYSE: PSO). Pearson is an international media company with market leading businesses in education, business information and consumer publishing.

For more information about this or other Penguin Young Readers Group books, go to www.penguin.com/youngreaders.

About Chorion

Chorion is a leading provider of quality family entertainment for the global marketplace. Chorion brings a combination of brand management savvy and creative vision to the development of literary copyrights across all media. Chorion's portfolio includes classic children's brands such as Mr. Men and Little Miss, Beatrix Potter, Paddington, Noddy, OLIVIA, and The World of Eric Carle as well as art and lifestyle brands such as Country Diary. Chorion also owns and manages the literary works of Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler and Georges Simenon, among others.

Chorion has offices in London, New York, Tokyo and Sydney. For more information, please visit www.chorion.co.uk.

Shanta Newlin, Director of Publicity, Penguin +1-212-414-3630, Shanta.newlin@us.penguingroup.com, or Sara Zick, Senior Publicist, +1-212-414-3561, Sara.zick@us.penguingroup.com