Fans poured onto social media with tributes to beloved children’s author Eric Carle, who died on Sunday at the age of 91.
“RIP Eric Carle – genius, visionary, children's literature advocate, artist, human being, defender of the art of illustration,” wrote Pamela Paul, New York Times Book Review editor. “You made us all want to reach for the moon.”
Carle was best known for authoring children’s literature favourite The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
He was also a designer, illustrator and author of additional children’s classics like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
“In the light of the moon, holding on to a good star, a painter of rainbows, is now traveling across the night sky,” his family said in tribute on his website.
"RIP Eric Carle," wrote author Anna Fitzpatrick. "I love this illustration from an early draft of The Very Hungry Caterpillar back when it was called A Week with Willie Worm."
“Heaven just got more colorful,” wrote Peter H Reynolds, another author, on Twitter. “Eric Carle, 91, made his mark, splashing bravely & inspiring those around him to do the same.”
“To have spent some time with Eric Carle was the closest thing one could get to hanging out with the actual Santa Claus," reminisced author Jarrett J Krosoczka.
“His books and his advocacy for the arts will continue to ripple through time. But we in the children’s book community will miss him terribly.”
Carle died at his summer studio in Northampton, Massachusetts, from kidney failure, his son Rolf told The New York Times.
His most famous book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, came out in 1969 and is one of the best selling children’s books of all time with more than 55m copies sold.
And in total he wrote and illustrated more than 70 books, which sold more than 170m copies around the world.
His career as a children’s book author only became successful when he was in his late 30s, and he said he was inspired by things he had seen as a young boy.
“I had a lot of feelings, philosophical thoughts — at the age of 6,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1985.
“The only way I got older and wiser was that I got better trained. But that brain and soul were at their peak.”
In The Very Hungry Caterpillar, children were taken on the metamorphosis of a green and red caterpillar into a multi-coloured butterfly, and everything it ate along the way.
“The unknown often brings fear with it,” Mr Carle once said.
“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.”
Carle’s publisher, Penguin Kids, also paid tribute to him on Twitter.
“Thank you for sharing your great talent with generations of young readers,” they tweeted.