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Eric Carle, author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, has died

The US author was 91 years old.

Eric Carle died aged 91.
Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Eric Carle, the imagination behind the timeless children's book The Very Hungry Caterpillar has died, aged 91.

"In the light of the moon, holding on to a good star, a painter of rainbows is now travelling across the night sky," his family said, in a statement.

Carle wrote and illustrated countless books in his inimitable style, but was most famous for The Very Hungry Caterpillar. First published in 1969, the book that was translated into 66 different languages and sold over 50 million copies. One for every second it has been available.

Born in 1929 in Syracuse, New York, Carle began writing children's books in his late 30s. He moved to Germany as a child and spent most of his formative years in Stuttgart, finally making it back to the US in 1952, where he landed a job as a graphic designer in the promotion department of The New York Times. It was there, in 1967, where he worked on his very first book: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

News of his death was initially posted on Eric Carle's official Twitter account.

"It is with heavy hearts," read the tweet, "that we share that Eric Carle, author & illustrator of  The Very Hungry Caterpillar and many other beloved classics, passed away."

According to Carle's son, he died in Northampton, Massachusetts, of kidney failure.

"With many of my books I attempt to bridge the gap between the home and school," Carle once wrote, when explaining his work. "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?

"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."

He leaves behind two children.