Very Hungry Caterpillar (with message this time)

jackie e stallcup jstallcup at
Wed Feb 19 05:03:42 EST 2003

I can't resist quoting someone from a different listserve on this
particular topic.  For the first post,  I'm not going to give the
person's name because he may not want to be associated with this anymore,
but it made me laugh.  It also set off a series of protests about
politicizing the list (and about not being funny), so if anyone is
offended by political remarks, I will apologize in advance.  And just to
make it clear, I didn't write either of the following--I'm just passing
them along to you all!

Jackie S.

Here's the first one:
I have often thought it curious that George W. Bush's favorite book to
to children is Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but yesterday it
suddenly occurred to me why this book appeals to him so much.  He must
it as his life story.  After all, it's a tale about a young hedonist who
indulges his oral cravings at an increasing rate until he finally reaches
crisis stage, at which point he makes a dramatic and highly visible
All you need to do is substitute beer for food, and you have Bush's life
a nutshell.

And here's the second one:
>>The Very Uncurious President
>>By Arianna Huffington
>>Gather 'round little ones. It's story time. Today's is
>>a scary one. It's about a president utterly lacking in
>>imagination. It's called "The Very Uncurious President."
>>"Once upon a time there was the curious case of a man
>>who was given the entire world and yet had no curiosity
>>  about it. Then he became president. He was the leader
>>  of the world, but nothing in it seemed to interest
>>him. For instance, whenever he visited a class of
>>school children he would always, always, always read
>>the same book. No matter how far he traveled or how old
>>his listeners, he never deviated from the tried and
>>true. In fact, he was so reluctant to try another tale,
>>his loyal retainers would sometimes clear the room of
>>all other books, leaving only the president's favorite
>>around. That way, George would never see a book that
>>might make him angry or upset or confused.
>>"Then, one bright, shiny day, just as the very uncurious president was
>>about to begin reading his
>>favorite book, a young boy stepped up, handed him a
>>brand-new book and asked him to read it aloud.
>>"The president hemmed and hawed, fretted and frowned,
>>sputtered and stammered. But what could he do --
>>everyone was watching. So he slowly opened the new
>>book, his eyes quickly scanning the page. It was filled
>>with words. Words he'd never seen arranged in this
>>exact order before. And then -- with a loud 'pop!' --
>>his head exploded. The End."
>>True story. Well, except for the part about the
>>president's head exploding.  But it's a fact that
>>whenever George W. Bush makes an appearance at a
>>school, as he did last week in Albuquerque, N.M., he
>>always, always, always reads from the same book, "The
>>Very Hungry Caterpillar." It's the story of a ravenous
>>caterpillar that eats so much he makes himself sick
>>before finally transforming into a beautiful butterfly.
>>Now, don't get me wrong. It's a wonderful book.
>>Beautifully illustrated and with a nice moral about
>>moderation and redemption. But W has been falling
>>back on "TVHC" since he was running for governor. He's
>>made hundreds and hundreds of school appearances over
>>the years, and it's always the same drill: Anytime he
>>gets within shouting distance of school kids, no matter
>>their age -- whoosh! -- out comes "The Very Hungry
>>The book is geared toward preschoolers, but there was
>>the Reader of the Free World in Albuquerque, reading it
>>to a group of second-graders. You could almost see the
>>kids rolling their eyes in unison. But Bush wasn't
>>going to deviate from his historically narrow comfort
>>zone, even though he admitted that his selection wasn't
>>exactly age-appropriate. "These kids are way beyond
>>'The Hungry Caterpillar,'" he said after he was done.
>>Then, veering dangerously close to self-reflection, he
>>added: "They read it better than the president could
>>read it." He said it, I didn't.
>>I wonder what it is about the story that strikes such a
>>cord with the president?
>>Maybe he sees it as a metaphor for his own life, where
>>he clearly was a voracious consumer of drink -- and
>>lord knows what else -- devouring enough to make
>>himself sick. He then went into his personal cocoon,
>>emerging reborn as a beautiful butterfly. Or, at least,
>>as a moth with enough pals on the Supreme Court to make
>>him President of the United States.
>>Or maybe he just likes the way the book comes, with
>>little holes in it that you can stick your fingers
>>through or play peek-a-boo with. To paraphrase Freud,
>>sometimes a caterpillar is just a caterpillar.
>>The problem is not that W only feels comfortable reading the same
>>children's book again and again. It's
>>what this confirms about him. After all, the essence of
>>reading is encountering new ideas and different
>>viewpoints, and here is a man who has no interest in
>>either of those things.
>>But though he may see no value in being intellectually
>>curious, he clearly sees value in seeming to be
>>intellectually curious. I just wish he wouldn't try so
>>hard. "I like to read," he told the students in New
>>Mexico. "I read a lot."
>>Fine, maybe he does, but why do his protests feel so
>>forced? For instance, how many times are we going to
>>hear that the president is spending part of his summer
>>break reading David McCullough's biography of John
>>Adams? The White House spinmeisters have tried to work
>>it into almost every discussion of the president's
>>extended holiday.
>>Indeed, in a recent TV interview with ABC's Claire
>>Shipman, W almost tripped over himself in an effort to
>>toss out the fact that his "typical" day included lots
>>of time spent reading -- especially that big, fat bio
>>of the second president. I was half-expecting him to
>>point out: "And, y'know, Claire, that sucker is over
>>600 pages long!" And when he was asked what he thought
>>of the bulky best-seller, he responded: "I like it. It's
>>interesting." Well, there you have it. Literary
>>analysis worthy of the Paris Review.
>>The next time W visits a school, maybe he should take a
>>risk and leave "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" behind. He
>>could always read that kids' classic "Curious George."
>>But I've got a feeling irony isn't really his strong

On Tue, 18 Feb 2003 12:22:41 -0800 (PST) Jon Noble
<jon_p_noble at> writes:
> Sorry about the last post, 
> I have just been doing some research on George W Bush
> and he lists his favourite childhood book as "Very
> Hungry Caterpillar" I will leave it to those who's
> children like this book as whether they should be
> pleased or alarmed. The fact that he was 23 when the
> book was published should not be taken as an
> indication of his mental age ;-)
> Jon
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