The Very Hungry Caterpillar is 45! One of the most popular characters in the history of children's fiction first started eating through a variety of foods on the way to becoming a butterfly in 1969. Since then, Eric Carle's classic story has sold more than 37 million copies worldwide and, in the UK, is the most read of children's books. Every new young generation loves this evergreen classic, and so do adults.
In a new YouGov poll* of 2,652 adults, commissioned by John Lewis and Barnardo's, and carried out as part of a campaign to promote reading and support vulnerable children in the UK, The Very Hungry Caterpillar came third in a list of favourite children's books. It was only overtaken by Winnie the Pooh and Alice's Adventures In Wonderland in a poll that covered books published throughout the last 150 years.
Clearly, Very Hungry Caterpillar fans have a lot to celebrate during his 45th birthday year. As part of the continuing anniversary celebrations, a number of major events and promotions are planned or under way. The biggest so far, however, happened on the book's actual anniversary date, 20th March, when school children up and down the country took part in an official sponsored Very Hungry Caterpillar Giant Wiggle.
Organised in partnership with the charity Action for Children, this event brought children together to wiggle along in giant caterpillar conga lines. More than 750 schools and nurseries took part. That's a lot of wiggling children: 32,632 in fact. And, at £60,000 the money raised exceeded expectations — and it's still coming in. In fact, so successful has the day been that Action for Children and independent licensing company Rocket Licensing, which manages the brand's licensing campaign through worldwide agent The Joester Loria Group, are already planning an even bigger and better Giant Wiggle in 2015, including a number of activities and promotions centred around Book Week in March 2015.
As well as the Giant Wiggle itself, many of the schools and nurseries incorporated storytelling, treasure hunts, arts and crafts, nature trails and healthy eating picnics — all aspects of this much-loved children's book. As part of the event, children were also encouraged to play and develop their imaginations through storytelling and creativity. Mask decorating and dancing sessions proved an especially popular theme. The media campaign, meanwhile, secured 258 hits across international, national, regional and online media with a reach of more than 67 million.
All the money raised through the campaign will support Action for Children's work across the country to help vulnerable children, young people and families in the heart of communities.
Partnership fundraising manager at Action for Children, Ruth Sorby, said: “Action for Children is absolutely delighted to have worked with Rocket Licensing to celebrate The Very Hungry Caterpillar's birthday with the Giant Wiggle. Not only has the event raised vital funds for Action for Children, it's also raised fantastic awareness of the charity, which supports the UK's most vulnerable children, young people and their families. We've already started planning The Giant Wiggle 2015!”
Charlie Donaldson, Joint Managing Director of Rocket Licensing, added: “It's amazing to think that decades after this simple but stunningly designed work first reached bookshelves, it's still a hit with millions of children all over the world — and especially with the tens of thousands of children and teachers who took part in the Giant Wiggle. Happy birthday, Very Hungry Caterpillar!”
Posted: 15 March 2019