I read my daughter the finger puppet version of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar‘ baby book this evening and as an English Literature graduate, felt compelled to complete a review of this riveting read. There’s so much going on – so many emotions- in the book that it really needs the attention to detail that it deserves.
So, without further ado…
We are introduced to a slightly creepy-looking caterpillar who comes along and sticks his head through a single, red, rosy apple. The caterpillar closely resembles an asthmatic bunny by sporting giant purple antennae and so this must be ironed out with any little ones immediately or the story makes absolutely no sense (I won’t spoil the twist at the end). The bunny – sorry, caterpillar – wiggles about in this rather messily drawn apple, and since the narrative is extremely limited, we, the reader, must interpret for ourselves what is actually going on. If you delve deep between the lines of the text, I think we’re correct to assume that the caterpillar is in fact eating the apple.
We have now doubled the images of messily drawn fruit. Again, we’re led to understand that the caterpillar is happily munching through two ‘crisp’ pears, which I can only assume means they are pretty crunchy. Crunchy pears are not my thing, but each to their own. What I like about this page is that the pears are not the same size – which is true to real life. This is not Tesco or Sainsburys where non-identical or ‘imperfect’ fruit is tossed out as they won’t appeal to the consumer. Well done for championing natural produce, caterpillar.
Page three reveals our old friend tucking into some tart plums. Again, anything ‘tart’ is not my scene (unless I’m out clubbing), but clearly the guy likes it. I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten a plum – truth be told. I’ve only really heard about them from Little Jack Horner and he pulled his out of pie so it can’t have been that great.
Blimey, more bloomin’ fruit. It’s starting to feel like the caterpillar is dining at my mother-in-law’s house. Can you believe she doesn’t really like chocolate or cake but would choose to eat a fruit salad instead? I know, it’s shocking. Maybe she should hook up with the caterpillar, she’d love all these wonky-looking groceries.
Woah, five oranges!? After all that fruit he’s still going to tuck into five oranges? I’d be writhing on the floor in agony from acidic stomach cramps about two plums, and four strawberries ago. He needs protein and stodge to fill him up – no wonder he’s so bloody hungry with all this poxy fruit. Well done for getting your five a day Mr caterpillar, but someone needs to teach you about healthy balance and food groups.
Page Six – the big reveal *spoiler alert*
OK seriously, what are we teaching children here? Eat and eat and eat and eventually you will become beautiful? Sorry kids but that sure as hell didn’t happen to me. Perhaps it’s true if you consume triple your body weight in fruit, but I’m pretty sure you’d get crippling heartburn long before you could find out. I’m also slightly confused that the butterfly seems upside-down compared to your traditional butterfly drawings, but perhaps that’s designed to encourage diversity. Well played caterpillar/butterfly friend.
So there you have it, an intellectual and measured review of a very popular children’s book. I would like my final thoughts on this story to be that if your husband points out that the star puppet of this narrative reminds him of a slightly dodgy body part, don’t let your next words to your baby be, ‘would you like to stroke the furry caterpillar?’