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.
Praise for The Very Clumsy Click Beetle:
"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."--Library Journal
"At once stark and sophisticated, Carle's trademark collage art fills the pages of his latest Very volume."--Publishers Weekly
"Carle's trademark artwork, featuring large, colorful collages set against expansive white space, is--as always--a strong attribute."--Booklist
About the Author
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.
Hometown:Northampton, Massachusetts and the Berkshires
Date of Birth:June 25, 1929
Place of Birth:Syracuse, New York
Education:Akademie der bildenden Künste, Stuttgart, 1946-50
Read an Excerpt
An interview with Eric Carle:
Excerpted from "The Very Clumsy Click Beetle"
Copyright © 1999 Eric Carle.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
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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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Persistence pays off for the clumsy beetle! Your kids will love this book.
Good book, but somewhat repetitive.
Genre: FantasyAge: PrimaryMedia: Water colorReview: Beetles are not actually able to talk and insects cannot talk. Young children have great imaginations and will follow the story very well.
The Click beetle in this story climbs up and down many things before getting tired in a tree and falling on his back. He is stuck until a old beetle comes to help. Eventually the beetle is able to flip onto his feet after words of encouragement from things passing by. It is a good book to read to 1st or 2nd graders who need to see how good it is to stick with something and persevere to succeed.
This book is about a young click beetle. One night when the click beetle is about to go to sleep it falls out of a tree. A wise Click Beetle sees him and tells him he will teach him how to click and flip and land on his feet. The Wise Click Beetle demonstrates for the young Click Beetle. Then he tries but always lands on his back and calls himself clumsy. But with encouragement from others he keeps trying until one day he finally gets it.
This story is a wonderful example of modern fantasy because it is about how a wise click beetle teaches a young click beetle to flip over. These impossible interactions between these two insects and others are what make it a wonderful fantasy story for young readers. Throughout this story, the young beetle has to learn that it is important to have perseverance in order to accomplish great tasks. He tries several times to flip over but always lands on his back. Finally, though, with the help of the wise old click beetle, the young click beetle learns to flip over and land on his stomach.
This is such a fun book! Readers actually get to hear the clicking of a beetle as they flip the pages. The Very Clumsy Click Beetle teaches a GREAT lesson! It shows children that it is okay to fail at first and be frustrated but that with time, they will grow to be better and more adapt to things. I find this story to be engaging with the sound but also have a really important lesson.