The Very Clumsy Click Beetleby Eric Carle
Finally, here's a brand-new book in Eric Carle's extraordinarily popular Very series. And with a new surprise!When a little click beetle falls onto his back, he seeks the help of a wise old click beetle. "Look at me," says the more experienced click beetle, giving a loud CLICK and flipping onto its feet. But try as he might, the clumsy little click beetle/b>
Finally, here's a brand-new book in Eric Carle's extraordinarily popular Very series. And with a new surprise!When a little click beetle falls onto his back, he seeks the help of a wise old click beetle. "Look at me," says the more experienced click beetle, giving a loud CLICK and flipping onto its feet. But try as he might, the clumsy little click beetle just can't get the hang of itor can he? In the tradition of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Carle creates a winning story of perseverance and pride in achievement complete with an ingenious fiber-optic microchip that truly gives voice to the valiant little beetle as it CLICKs its way through the colorful pages and somersaults into your heart.
Read an Excerpt
An interview with Eric Carle:
Q: Eric, how did you come to decide on a click beetle for your new book?CARLE: I like little bugs and insects, and I know that they have become my "signatures" -but it's not an artificially arrived-at signature. I grew up fascinated by little worms, bugs, and insects. I suppose my father had a lot to do with it...in our walks around the garden, he would point out these little insects to me. Maybe it was because in Germany we didn't have elephants, giraffes or other large animals, so I had to settle for likinglittle creaturesants, worms, and bugs. But don't you think that most little boys and little girls seem to have an interest in them, too? There are so many surprising things about insectstheir life cycles, for instance. Some, like cicadas, take seven years to hatch, andthen only live for a week or so! Why would nature do that? Recently, I was reading about butterflies and to my surprise I discovered that one species is carnivorous! It eats other insects. And ants are amazing! There are so many different kinds of ants in the same colony, each with its own specializationbuilders, fighters, food hunters and harvesterssome even build mushroom cellars! Fascinating!! The click beetle might seem at first like a dull little guy, but it has this remarkable ability to flip through the air and I found that very interesting! I learned that adult click beetles have this wonderful ability, but do you know that they only land on their feet fifty percent of the time? One out of two attempts is not successful! Don't you think that's strange? What did nature have in mind when it designed a bug that has only a fifty percent chance of getting out of harm's way?Q:Did you have a concept for the book in mind first, and then find the click beetle to fulfill the concept? Or were you fascinated by click beetles and the concept came second?CARLE: Let me take a step back. Thirty years ago, I had written THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR and at one point, I thought it would be nice to have a quartet of books. I just thought a "quartet" sounded like a nice little group for a child to own. So over the years I did write four booksTHE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR, THE VERY BUSY SPIDER, THE VERY LONELY FIREFLY and THE VERY QUIET CRICKET. But then I thought, "Gee, a 'quintet' of books would be even nicer!" So I settled on the idea of the click beetle, an insect I had been thinking about for some time. Perseverance seemed to be thenatural theme. Because they only land on their feet fifty percent of the time, it takes perseverance to get really good at it. Of course, that is an anthropomorphic point of view. My little insects are metaphors for children, who have the same problems of learning to walk, to talk, to run, etc. So the importance of "stick-to-itiveness" became the theme for THE VERY CLUMSY CLICK BEETLE.Q:Perhaps this is an unfair or undiplomatic question, but which of the VERY... books is your favorite?CARLE: All of my books are my beloved children, but THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLARmay be the one I feel closest to because it was my first child. And one always has a soft spot for the first-born.Q:Your art appears deceptively simple, but anyone with an ounce of sense can see that it is very complicated. How long does it take you from conception to finished art?CARLE: Do you mean from the time I begin to actually work on the collages themselves until the end? Well, it varies. About 75% of the creative process goes into thinking the book through, honing the story line, struggling with the concept. I keep wondering if the concept is good or bad. I may put the idea away and keep taking it out again and again,looking at it from every angle. The art itself is the last quarter of the process and it's also the most intensive, but not as personally intensive as the first three-quarters of the effort. The real creative process takes place before I actually begin putting the paper collage pieces on the pages. But the whole book is with me most of the timeI think about itconstantly, sometimes waking up in the middle of the night, wondering how I can make it better. Then the artwork becomes a separate unit of the project and that's a new struggle. But it's not as hard a struggle as the initial "thinking it through" stage. I feel very secure with my art although, of course, I have lapses at times. I have doubts one day and thenext day I think it's the best work I've ever done. I waffle between the two and out of that conflict something seems to grow. Sometimes I think it is all easy and wonderful, but that's not true. It really is a struggle at times. When the book is finished there is also a sense of what the French call "la petite mort"the little deathor maybe more appropriately, postpartum separation! And it happens with every book. When it's allfinished I often think, "Could I have done this better or did I do my best?" Sometimes I look at one of my books after it's been in print for five years or so and think, "Oh, I wish I had done that differently." But most of the time, I'm surprised at how enduring my work seems to be. It's not something I set out to do, but it turns out that even THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR, written thirty years ago, still looks new and fresh today. Itdoesn't look dated.Q:You seem to have at least two climaxes in each of your books. In THE VERYCLUMSY CLICK BEETLE, the first climax comes when the little click beetle is aboutto be stepped on before he can accomplish the flip, and the second climax is the final joy of his actually being able to do it. Do you consciously set out to do this?CARLE: The fact that I often give my stories double climaxes happens naturally. I never knew I did it! It was my German publisher who first pointed that out to me, and he was right, of course, but I had never noticed it and it was not my conscious intention to do that. It just happened because I thought it added suspense and made for a better story.Q:Which of your books was the most effortless from start to finish?CARLE: THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR was the most effortless. It was a joy from start to finish.Q:What do you call your style of cut-paper working?CARLE: It's an art form called collage, in which the image is formed of pieces of paper, cloth or other material, cut and pasted onto a surface. I make my images with self-prepared tissue papers, meaning that I hand-paint all the papers with various textures and colors. I keep a stock of these hand-painted papers, so I have my materials ready to use when I want to create a collage image.Q:Whom do you consider the most outstanding collage artist?CARLE: Kurt Schwitters, a German who worked in the twenties and thirties, is undoubtedly the best. But his work is not like my work at all. In his collages, he used railway tickets, newspapers, and parts of posters. A more pictorial artist would be Matisse. In the children's book world, the outstanding artists would be Leo Leonni, Ezra Jack Keats, and Lois Ehrlert. I often compare my collage papers to a painter's palette; or perhaps theyare more like a painter's brushes and tubes of oil paints.Q:Your books are known for their use of technology. THE VERY LONELY FIREFLY lights up and so on. How did you come to be interested in this?CARLE: (Carle chuckles). As a graphic designer, I have always tried to expand the capabilities of paper. And now with sound chips and light chips and all the other new technology available, I really like the thought of combining paper with this technology to create something new. I'm also interested in the technology of new ideas, and I like the idea of surprise! You know I also have a background in advertising and good advertising usually presents a surprise to the viewer.Q:Were you an artist as a child?CARLE: I always drew pictures, even then. It was my favorite occupation at that time of my life. My parents were very supportive and my relatives brought me watercolors and papers and crayons. My mother would proudly show off my work to anyone who happened to come by.Q:Some of the "lessons" contained in your books - the importance of work in THE VERY BUSY SPIDER, the need to belong in THE VERY LONELY FIREFLY, and the need to be loved in THE VERY QUIET CRICKET, are very sophisticated concepts, touching sometimes on abstract subjects. How do you get such a complicated and important message across without being either overly wordy or preachy?CARLE: The underlying topics which are addressed in each of the books you mention are indeed very basic and universal desires and needs. Very basic ideas. In the books, these lessons are camouflaged, are not didactically presented; they are not the primary concerns of my books. The primary concern is to tell a good story, to impart just sheer fun and then, secondarily, to educate or to convey some useful idea. In part the ideas come from my own philosophical thoughts and musings. My ability to write them simply and in a way that children can easily understand is intuitive. I try not to intellectualize too much about the ideas in my books. I do remember my own childhood feelings and emotions quite clearly; so perhaps this helps me to understand the basic needs and interests of the youngchildren for whom I create my books. Other than that, I really don't know how I do it. Either you have intuition or you don't. And you have to trust your intuition, too. Trust that it's not going to lead you away from the point you are trying to make, and trust that it is correct in terms of the child reader.Q:For some illustrators, writing is difficult but creating the illustrations is a joy. Is writing easy for you?CARLE: (long pause)..Hmmm...I guess the best way for me to answer that is to tell you that I have pictures that need words, and I have words that need pictures, and that's how I work at it. So the two elements are really closely intertwined. It's not a question of words being easier than pictures, or vice versa.Q:1999 is a big year for you! You are celebrating the 30th birthday of THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR, your own 70th birthday, and the publication of THE VERY CLUMSY CLICK BEETLE. Can you tell me some of the highlights of the year so far?CARLE: Well, earlier in the year, I was in London with my English publisher where I was honored and appreciated. That was very nice indeed. The same thing happened in Germany where I had an exhibition at the Picture Book Museum of Troisdorf, which is near Cologne. I also gave two workshops there. And there were some celebrations there also. The mayor honored me by giving me the Golden Key to the town! I was honored at the American Library Association in New Orleans in June, and there's more to come this Fall in New York. Yes, it's been an exciting year. To have a seventieth birthday does feel very special. I think perhaps finally, in my seventieth year, I'm just beginning to become wise - at least I hope so!(Copyright © 1999 Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers)
Meet the Author
Eric Carle is acclaimed and beloved as the creator of brilliantly illustrated and innovatively designed picture books for very young children. His best-known work, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, has eaten its way into the hearts of literally millions of children all over the world and has been translated into more than 25 languages and sold over twelve million copies. Since the Caterpillar was published in 1969, Eric Carle has illustrated more than sixty books, many best sellers, most of which he also wrote.
Born in Syracuse, New York, in 1929, Eric Carle moved with his parents to Germany when he was six years old; he was educated there, and graduated from the prestigious art school, the Akademie der bildenden Kunste, in Stuttgart. But his dream was always to return to America, the land of his happiest childhood memories. So, in 1952, with a fine portfolio in hand and forty dollars in his pocket, he arrived in New York. Soon he found a job as a graphic designer in the promotion department of The New York Times. Later, he was the art director of an advertising agency for many years.
One day, respected educator and author, Bill Martin Jr, called to ask Carle to illustrate a story he had written. Martin's eye had been caught by a striking picture of a red lobster that Carle had created for an advertisement. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? was the result of their collaboration. It is still a favorite with children everywhere. This was the beginning of Eric Carle's true career. Soon Carle was writing his own stories, too. His first wholly original book was 1,2,3 to the Zoo, followed soon afterward by the celebrated classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Eric Carle's art is distinctive and instantly recognizable. His art work is created in collage technique, using hand-painted papers, which he cuts and layers to form bright and cheerful images. Many of his books have an added dimension - die-cut pages, twinkling lights as in The Very Lonely Firefly, even the lifelike sound of a cricket's song as in The Very Quiet Cricket - giving them a playful quality: a toy that can be read, a book that can be touched. Children also enjoy working in collage and many send him pictures they have made themselves, inspired by his illustrations. He receives hundreds of letters each week from his young admirers. The secret of Eric Carle's books' appeal lies in his intuitive understanding of and respect for children, who sense in him instinctively someone who shares their most cherished thoughts and emotions.
The themes of his stories are usually drawn from his extensive knowledge and love of nature - an interest shared by most small children. Besides being beautiful and entertaining, his books always offer the child the opportunity to learn something about the world around them. It is his concern for children, for their feelings and their inquisitiveness, for their creativity and their intellectual growth that, in addition to his beautiful artwork, makes the reading of his books such a stimulating and lasting experience.
Carle says: "With many of my books I attempt to bridge the gap between the home and school. To me home represents, or should represent; warmth, security, toys, holding hands, being held. School is a strange and new place for a child. Will it be a happy place? There are new people, a teacher, classmates - will they be friendly? I believe the passage from home to school is the second biggest trauma of childhood; the first is, of course, being born. Indeed, in both cases we leave a place of warmth and protection for one that is unknown. The unknown often brings fear with it. In my books I try to counteract this fear, to replace it with a positive message. I believe that children are naturally creative and eager to learn. I want to show them that learning is really both fascinating and fun."
copyright © 2000 by Penguin Group (USA) Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.
- Northampton, Massachusetts and the Berkshires
- Date of Birth:
- June 25, 1929
- Place of Birth:
- Syracuse, New York
- Akademie der bildenden Künste, Stuttgart, 1946-50
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Persistence pays off for the clumsy beetle! Your kids will love this book.