The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle Puffin, $84 After hatching from an egg on a Sunday morning, a tiny but nevertheless very hungry caterpillar launches into a week-long food fest. The voracious grub starts by eating through one apple on Monday, followed by two pears on Tuesday, three plums on Wednesday and so on. He ends his epicurean antics on Saturday by munching his way through an alluring array of cakes, ice cream and other fattening goodies - although he subsequently has to snack on a leaf to alleviate the stomach ache caused by his excess. Now, far from his former svelte self and no longer hungry, the caterpillar builds a cocoon and emerges two weeks later in all his multicoloured splendour as a butterfly. First published in 1969, this Eric Carle classic continues to stand the test of time and as far as children's books go, is one no child should go without. Reading it as a mother rather than a child, I was surprised by the various levels in so simple a tale. Its bold and vibrant illustrations capture the attention of babies as young as five months and circular cutouts through each piece of food are the ideal size for little fingers to wiggle through and explore. The engaging story is short enough to sustain the interest of slightly older but perhaps more fidgety listeners and with its repetitive text helps children recall and retell the story themselves. It also teaches the days of the week, numbers and different types of fruit and incorporates the biological story of how a caterpillar metamorphoses into a butterfly. As the saying goes, the old ones are the good ones and this is one of the very best.