The Very Clumsy Click Beetle

( 1 )

Overview

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 it—or can he? In the tradition of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Carle creates a winning story of perseverance and pride in achievement...

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Overview

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 it—or 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
At once stark and sophisticated, Carle's trademark collage art fills the pages of his latest Very volume (The Very Quiet Cricket; The Very Lonely Firefly). The author's opening note explains that the persevering click beetle often lands on its back and is unable to right itself. By stretching, it releases a snap mechanism that makes an audible click and flips the beetle into the air, after which it lands on its feet--sometimes. Coached by a wise old click beetle and encouraged by a string of supportive animals ("Better luck next time.... Keep on trying"), Carle's stylized little beetle repeatedly attempts to maneuver himself off his back and onto his feet. The book's never-give-up message registers loud and clear, unlike the "Click" sound that youngsters may well expect each time this word appears as the beetle hurls himself back into the air. Rather, the computer chip (which has a replaceable battery) activates only once--to emit six clicks, during the beetle's climactic triple-somersault. (But if the reader flips the pages quickly, instead of turning them ceremoniously, unwanted clicks clack out.) Ultimately, the gimmick distracts from the story and does not enhance it. All ages. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner
Similar to The Very Hungry Caterpillar and others, Carle spins a tale of a day in the life of a click beetle. The message of the story is perseverance. Vivid illustrations, in bright, bold primary colors follow the day and night journey of this little bug, as he meets and attempts to impress a variety of animals with his special trick of flipping over through the air, without success. When it appears that he will be stepped upon, he valiantly flips and lands feet first. Readers will delight in the clicking noise emanating from this book at this point. A foreword tells us that there are over 8,500 types of this small, clumsy bug in the world. When a click beetle is on its back, it cannot simply roll over. It must stretch and release a mechanism located between its head and stomach which propels it through the air with a clicking noise. If lucky, it will land on its feet. If not, it will repeat the process until successful. A battery-run electronic chip provides the clicking noise; the battery is replaceable, requiring a teeny Phillips-head screwdriver and four 1.5 volt, L1131 cells.
Library Journal
Pres-Gr 2-Carle's charming little hero gets stuck on its back and can't get up. An elder click beetle advises the youngster how to right itself, but it can't quite get the hang of flipping itself over on its legs. Encouraged to keep trying by a turtle, a snail, a worm, and a mouse, the small creature becomes more and more discouraged as it keeps landing on its back. When a curious boy starts investigating, the beetle becomes frightened and finally executes the perfect click and flip to land on its feet. The book features a clicking sound effect at the end, courtesy of a strategically placed microchip. Done in colored tissue-paper collage, the illustrations burst from the pages and are charmingly rendered. When the boy is introduced, readers see him from the beetle's perspective, as just two huge feet. Sure to be loved and requested again and again, Click Beetle is a well-crafted story, joyfully illustrated, that speaks to the hearts of young children.-Jane Claes, Texas Woman's University, Denton Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Weekly Editors Entertainment
Carle's bright, clunky collages always entrance children, and his latest—about a little beetle who can't seem to land on his feet—is no exception.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399232015
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 9/1/1999
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 196,232
  • Age range: 3 - 5 Years
  • Lexile: AD210L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 11.75 (w) x 8.59 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Carle
Children learn about the natural world in Eric Carle's original, charming books, which include classics such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me. Carle's vivid tissue-paper illustrations and innovations in book design have made him an author whose longevity and continued popularity are testaments to his beloved status among young readers and parents.

Biography

Ever since he began innovating the look and function of children's stories in the late 1960s, Eric Carle has remained an author whose stories reliably hit the bestseller lists and remain on kids' bookshelves through generations.

He began as a designer of promotions and ads, and one illustration of a red lobster helped jump-start his career. The lobster caught the eye of author Bill Martin, Jr.; Martin asked Carle to illustrate the now-classic 1967 title Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and a career was born.

Born in Syracuse, New York but brought by his immigrant parents back to Germany when he was six, Carle was educated in Stuttgart and designed posters for the United States Information Center there after graduating from art school. He finally returned to the country he missed so much as a child in 1952.

He eventually began procuring work on children's titles, and found himself becoming increasingly involved in them. "I felt something of my own past stirring in me," he wrote in a 2000 essay. "An unresolved part of my own education needed reworking, and I began to make books -- books for myself, books for the child in me, books I had yearned for. I became my own teacher -- but this time an understanding one."

He began his career with the 1968 title 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo; but his next title, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, is what still endears him to young readers today. Employing his bright, collage style and lending an immediacy to the tale by manifesting the caterpillar's hunger in actual holes in the pages, Carle began what would be a long career of creative approaches to simple stories. From the chirp emerging from The Very Quiet Cricket to the delightful fold-out pages in Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me, Carle's books provide surprises that make his stories come alive in ways that many titles for preschoolers do not.

Carle's style, with its diaphanous, busy and bold artwork, is perfect for engaging new readers. His stories are also popular with parents and educators for their introductions to the natural world and its cycles. It's a particular pleasure to follow Carle into different corners of the world and see what can be learned from the creatures who live in them.

Good To Know

Regularly asked where he gets his ideas, Carle is quoted on his publisher's web site as responding: "Of course, the question of where ideas come from is the most difficult of all. Some people like to say they get ideas when they're in the shower. That's always a very entertaining answer, but I think it's much deeper than that. It goes back to your upbringing, your education, and so forth." He does say, however, that the idea for The Very Hungry Caterpillar came when he whimsically began punching holes in some paper, which suggested to him a bookworm at work. His editor later suggested he change the bookworm to a caterpillar, and the rest is history.

Carle was unhappy to be in Germany when his immigrant parents brought him back there as a child. He hated his new school and wanted to go back to America. He said: "When it became apparent that we would not return, I decided that I would become a bridge builder. I would build a bridge from Germany to America and take my beloved German grandmother by the hand across the wide ocean."

Before he became a freelance illustrator and began working on children's books, Carle worked as a graphic designer for the New York Times and as art director of an ad agency.

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    1. Hometown:
      Northampton, Massachusetts and the Berkshires
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 25, 1929
    2. Place of Birth:
      Syracuse, New York
    1. Education:
      Akademie der bildenden Künste, Stuttgart, 1946-50
    2. Website:

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 liking little creatures—ants, 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 insects—their life cycles, for instance. Some, like cicadas, take seven years to hatch, and then 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 specialization—builders, fighters, food hunters and harvesters—some 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 books—THE 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 the natural 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 CATERPILLAR may 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 time—I think about it constantly, 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 the next 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 death—or maybe more appropriately, postpartum separation! And it happens with every book. When it's all finished 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. It doesn't look dated. Q:You seem to have at least two climaxes in each of your books. In THE VERY CLUMSY CLICK BEETLE, the first climax comes when the little click beetle is about to 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 they are 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 young children 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)

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Interviews & Essays

The Very Popular Eric Carle

From The Very Hungry Caterpillar to The Very Lonely Firefly, Eric Carle's bestselling "Very" books have dazzled and delighted kids everywhere. Now Carle's created a brand-new "Very" book about a clumsy little click beetle who can't seem to land on his feet. However, when it matters most, he finally succeeds-saving his own life in the process. This winning story of perseverance and pride in achievement also has an ingenious, interactive surprise-a hidden sound chip provides an audible "click" each time the reader turns the page. Jamie Levine of Barnes & Noble.com recently asked Eric Carle some questions about his life, his work, and the new book everybody's flipping over.

Barnes & Noble.com: How did you come up with the idea for The Very Clumsy Click Beetle?

Eric 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 liking little creatures-ants, 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 insects-their life cycles, for instance. Some, like cicadas, take seven years to hatch, and then 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 specialization-builders, fighters, food hunters, and harvesters-some 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 land on their feet only 50 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 50 percent chance of getting out of harm's way?

The click beetle is an insect I had been thinking about for some time. Perseverance seemed to be the natural theme. Because click beetles land on their feet only 50 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.

bn.com: Do you have a favorite animal?

EC: No, I like to learn about all animals and insects.

bn.com: How long did it take to produce The Very Clumsy Click Beetle?

EC: The Very Clumsy Click Beetle has gone through the same process that most of my books do. An idea begins with a blip, a fragment that gradually grows. It grows sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly (some ideas never mature)-parts of it develop effortlessly, other parts develop painfully. Sometimes I feel it's the best ever, or the worst ever. This process can take a year or more, steadily on and off. The production of The Very Clumsy Click Beetle embodied the message of perseverance. Because of technical difficulties the publication date was delayed one full year. But we (publisher, printer, binder, and I) did, in the end, make it work.

bn.com: When did you start doing collage art? Is this your favorite medium to work in-or is it because it's your trademark that you continue to illustrate in this style?

EC: I learned collage in art school. After art school I was a poster artist. I always liked big, bold images, which are important in poster design. I love to do collages-the whole process of it-painting tissue papers, storing them, handling them, cutting and tearing out shapes.

bn.com: When you were a child, did you always know you'd be an artist of some sort? Did your parents encourage you?

EC: Yes. Before I knew the word "artist" or the concept of art, I knew I would draw pictures. 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.

bn.com: Your books are so intuitive about children's thoughts and feelings. How do you know so well what will touch and engage kids?

EC: The underlying topics that 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; perhaps this helps me to understand the basic needs and interests of the young children 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.

bn.com: Because you've established such a stellar reputation, do you find it is more difficult to create books (i.e., a lot is expected of you)-or in fact, is it easier (i.e., you have more clout, so you can do what you want)?

EC: Sometimes I am convinced that I will not do books anymore, but then I come up with an idea-what can I do?

Yes, a lot is expected of me and yes, I do have some clout. That is the time to be most careful. But my state of mind (working, illustrating, writing) while I am doing a book has never changed.

bn.com: Are you planning to do more "Very" books in the future? Are you working on any other books now?

EC: I'm not planning more "Very" books. And yes, I am working on other books, but will not mention them. If I do, I'll put a hex on them.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great addition to the "very" series!

    Persistence pays off for the clumsy beetle! Your kids will love this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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