I have very fond memories of reading Eric Carle's 'Very Hungry Caterpillar' story as a young child myself but had never got around to acquiring a copy to share with my own children. When I spotted this fun looking version of the classic story, complete with an integrated finger puppet, I immediately snapped up a copy to share with my youngest son's first Christmas.
Having never seen this book 'in the flesh' before ordering, I was disappointed with a few aspects of the story once it arrived. My main disappointment was that this is not actually the same as the original story, just with the incorporation of a finger puppet, as I'd anticipated. Instead, this version is just a very basic counting book with no real 'story' at all. Instead, this features a different item of fruit on each page, gradually increasing in number from one to five. The text on each double page spread is very simple and basic, for instance, 'one delicious apple', 'two crisp pears' and so on. The basic text does mean that this book is a very quick read, making it suitable for even very young babies and toddlers. It is a pretty short book too with just twelve pages in total, so suitable for children with limited attention spans.
One of the aspects that I loved about the original story was the variation in page sizes, giving the reader a view of the pages ahead and making the book stand out in my memory from childhood. Unfortunately, in this version all of the pages are a uniform size so that feature is also lost. The only aspect that this really shares with the original is the inclusion of Eric Carle's distinctive simple but colourful illustrations, although I don't think that is enough to make up for the features that have been missed out here.
The actual size of the book is yet another disappointing feature. This is a very thick, durable board book, made with heavily reinforced pages to withstand regular reading and the attentions of slobbering, teething youngsters. I was surprised by how small it actually is though, having expected this to be a similar size to the original paperback version. This is much smaller (around 18cm by 12cm) which does mean that the book is a convenient size to slip into a changing bag for a short distraction while out and about.
The feature that sets the book apart from other basic counting books is the inclusion of a fun little finger puppet, made to resemble quite a cute and colourful little caterpillar. There is a hole running throughout the story through which the caterpillar can be poked through each page, until eventually emerging at the back of the book as 'a beautiful butterfly.' The small size of the book means that the integrated finger puppet is also pretty small too. I would have liked the finger puppet to be long and large enough to allow the adult reader to position it so that it could pretend to eat the fruit featured in the story. Unfortunately, it's far too small to do that and can only be wriggled about a little within its hole. The small size of the puppet does mean that an older child is able to do this themselves and their fingers will fit comfortably within the hole.
This was first shared with my youngest son when he was just a few months old. As a short story, this was a good option although, in all honesty, he wasn't particularly interested in the words or the pictures and showed the most interest in the finger puppet. The appearance of the caterpillar poking through the hole in each page was enough to produce a few smiles and giggles. As he has got older, he has become less interested in this book although he has spent a considerable amount of time and energy trying to pull the caterpillar away from the back page! It is a testament to the quality of the book and its durability that he has not managed to damage in any way, despite his best intentions.
Given the many shortcomings that this version of the story has, I would be reluctant to recommend this at the full RRP of £7.99, which is the price this book costs from ELC shops and online. This is currently available from Amazon for just over £5 which I also feel is quite expensive. I would recommend spending the money on a copy of the original story instead, as the inclusion of the finger puppet here doesn't make up for the lack of a story and the loss of the original features.
At a Glance Gorgeous new interactive novelty format of the classic favourite The Very Hungry Caterpillar with an embedded plush finger puppet. Features and benefits for ELC The Very Hungry Caterpillar Finger Puppet Book Gorgeous new interactive novelty format of the classic favourite The Very Hungry Caterpillar with an embedded plush finger puppet.