"On Monday he ate through one apple. But he was still hungry." - The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
Is there a parent or teacher on the planet who isn't familiar with Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar? We've had our well-loved (board book) copy since my older son's first birthday and it's still a book my four and seven year olds occasionally enjoy. The great thing about it is that it can enjoyed on various levels. For babies and toddlers it's a good introduction to colors, counting, and the names of fruits. With older children it can be used to spark conversation about the caterpillar/butterfly lifecycle. Its unique design also appeals to kids. I remember being absolutely fascinated by this book as a child--there was always a long waitlist for Eric Carle books at my elementary school's library.
Do I even need to bother with a summary for this book? In short, the newborn caterpillar hatches from his egg and spends a week eating various foods before spinning his cocoon and eventually emerging as a "beautiful butterfly." It's illustrated in Carle's trademark style and the pages with the fruits he eats are staggered in size with die cut holes in the fruits to represent the caterpillar's bites.
The board book version we have is especially sturdy and has held up to years of use.
Our recipe for this week is simple and comes straight from the book: Hungry Caterpillar Fruit Salad. It uses as its ingredients the very foods the titular caterpillar ate during the week before building his cocoon. My kids and I enjoy making fruit salad in the summer; there is such an abundance of great, fresh, summery fruit. This was a perfect "cooking" project and snack for a summer day.
Hungry Caterpillar Fruit Salad
In addition to the fruits mentioned in the book, I like my fruit salad to include bananas, blueberries, cherries and whatever else happens to be in season (never any melon though). However, I wanted to stick as close to the amounts in the story as possible. I made an exception for the orange. Five oranges? That's a lot of oranges. Might have been doable if clementines were in season but they're not. Thus, one really large orange as a stand in for the five mini oranges. Were I making this in the winter (but then, strawberries and plums would be out of season) I would use five clementines.
- 1 apple
- 2 pears
- 3 plums
- 4 strawberries
- 5 oranges (5 clementines, or 1 large orange)
1. Wash fruit.
2. Peel, slice and/or cut fruit as necessary. I cut everything into bitesized chunks. My seven year old helped with the strawberries.
3. Place sliced fruit in bowl and toss to mix. I added a splash of lemon juice to prevent browning.
I served this with lunch; it would also make a good dessert. Or breakfast, if paired with yogurt.
Eric Carle has a great website with his bio, lists of his books, FAQs, games, coloring sheets and more. There are even instructions on how to make a collage in his signature style. His blog can be found here.
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