Nearly a half-century after being published, Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar continues to pique children’s curiosity as they poke their fingers through its pages to follow the ravenous, red-faced insect’s tale. In the iconic brightly colored book, readers meet a caterpillar that eats its way through pears, plums, strawberries and desserts before ultimately transforming into a beautiful butterfly. Cutout holes invite children to not only listen to the tale but also get playful as they become the caterpillar by pushing their fingers through the pages.
“Part of our mission at the gardens is to create great horticultural programs,” Ashley Elkins, the garden’s public events director, said. “We always want our festivals to be interactive and educational. We thought The Very Hungry Caterpillar was a great tie-in.”
Next month, children visiting Myriad Botanical Gardens’ Children’s Garden Festival will get a glimpse into the life of Carle’s caterpillar through activities, crafts and imaginative displays and leave with a deeper understanding of caterpillars and butterflies. Myriad staff brings the beloved tale to life June 3-11 in the Children’s Garden, 301 W. Reno Ave.
“We go through the book as to what he ate each day,” Elkins said. “Monday, he ate one apple — when you walk in, you walk through an apple. On Saturday, he eats junk but also some non-junk. We’ve created a 2-D and 3-D obstacle course where kids can crawl and play on a giant pickle and a piece of cheese.”
Entering its fifth year, the festival focuses on fun but also provides horticultural education opportunities for children ages 4-12. Visitors also will see more reading and literacy events woven into this year’s schedule. Throughout the festival, storytime commences at 11 a.m. each day, starting with Carle’s classic, followed by other books related to the summer season. Oklahoma children’s authors will share their works June 10 for a special 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. storytime. Authors participating include Desiree Webber, who penned The Buffalo Train Ride, a book about efforts to establish wildlife preserves in Oklahoma.
Families are encouraged to bring slightly used books for an exchange or to donate to the garden’s free library. The book exchange is 11 a.m.-noon June 10.
Children’s Garden Festival offers a number of crafts and activities as well as opportunities for families to explore the gardens to learn more about pollinators. While Carle’s work provides a basic introduction to caterpillars and butterflies, Myriad staff stands ready to explain more about native butterflies and their contributions to crops and plants.
The event is open to the public, but there is an admission charge for those who aren’t gardens members. As a nonprofit organization, the Children’s Garden Festival and Pumpkinville serve as the garden’s two fundraisers. A crowd of 7,000 people attended last year’s festival, Elkins said. This year, staff stands ready to entertain a crowd closer to 10,000.
“We are going to have so many activities every day, from storytime to face-painting,” she said. “It is a great place to come and make memories with your family.”
Children’s Garden Festival
10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 3-11
Myriad Botanical Gardens
301 W. Reno Ave.
Print headline: Timeless tales, Children’s Garden Festival brings The Very Hungry Caterpillar to life.