The Very Lonely Firefly

by Eric Carle (Author)

A VERY classic from Eric Carle, creator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar! When a very lonely firefly goes out into the night searching for other fireflies, it sees a lantern, a candle, and the eyes of a dog, cat, and owl all glowing in the darkness. It even sees a surprise celebration of light. But it is not until it discovers other fireflies that it finds exactly what it's looking for--a surprise sure to bring smiles to anyone who turn the final page! Lushly illustrated with Eric Carle's trademark vibrant collage art, soothingly told with a gentle read-aloud rhythm, and complete with a surprise sure to "light up" children's faces, The Very Lonely Firefly will fast become a storytime favorite. Read it with a flashlight in the dark or under the table--and watch those fireflies glow! Praise for The Very Lonely Firefly:

"Carle's richly hued, collage-like art and gentle text will be comfortingly familiar to his numerous young devotees."--Publishers Weekly

"This is a compelling accomplishment [and a] guaranteed winner as a read-aloud or read-alone."--School Library Journal

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Publishers Weekly

Starred Review
With characteristic simplicity-and the now expected visual "surprise" at book's end-Carle delivers another heartwarming tale about a diminutive creature on a quest. In the author/artist's words, his latest story "is about belonging." As the sun sets, a firefly is born: "It stretched its wings and flew off into the darkening sky." Searching for other fireflies, the lonely little guy flies hopefully toward other lights (a bulb in a window, a candle, a flashlight, the shining eyes of an owl, car headlights, fireworks), only to discover that they are not what he is looking for. Youngsters will be as tickled as the no-longer-lonely firefly to find, on the last spread, "a group of fireflies, flashing their lights"-with the help of replaceable batteries (final version not seen by PW). Carle's richly hued, collage-like art and gentle text will be comfortingly familiar to his numerous young devotees. Ages 4-up. (June)

School Library Journal

K-Gr 1--This final addition to the "Very Quartet" is classic Carle in both story and illustrations. It's a natural continuation of his other stories about insects that teach young readers universal emotions, needs, and a variety of other concepts. The illustrations help the story unfold, as readers see a newborn firefly at the end of its first day. It searches for companionship, mistaking a lightbulb; candle; flashlight; lantern; dog, cat, and owl eyes; headlights; and fireworks for its own kind. Finally, it discovers a group of fireflies, giving him the gift of companionship. There's also evidence of a sublayer of the belonging theme here, as a human family is portrayed discovering the fireworks display. The illustrations are painted cut-paper collages, designed to draw the eye to the page. This is a compelling accomplishment that will leave readers and listeners alike wishing Carle would turn the quartet into a quintet. A guaranteed winner as a read-aloud or read-alone.--Christina Dorr, Calcium Primary School, NY

Review quotes

Praise for The Very Lonely Firefly

"Carle's richly hued, collage-like art and gentle text will be comfortingly familiar to his numerous young devotees."—Publishers Weekly

"This is a compelling accomplishment [and a] guaranteed winner as a read-aloud or read-alone."—School Library Journal
Eric Carle
Eric Carle is acclaimed and beloved as the creator of brilliantly illustrated and innovatively designed picture books for very young children. His best-known work, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, has been translated into 70 languages and sold over 55 million copies. Carle illustrated more than seventy books, many best sellers, most of which he also wrote, and more than 170 million copies of his books have sold around the world. In 2003, Carle received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award (now called the Children's Literature Legacy Award) for lifetime achievement in children's literature. In 2002, Eric and his wife, Barbara, cofounded The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art ( in Amherst, Massachusetts, a 40,000-square-foot space dedicated to the celebration of picture books and picture book illustrations from around the world, underscoring the cultural, historical, and artistic significance of picture books and their art form. Eric Carle passed away in May 2021 at the age of 91. His work remains an important influence on artists and illustrators at work today.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
World of Eric Carle
Publication date
June 19, 1995
Penguin Young Readers, Level 2
BISAC categories
JUV039050 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Emotions & Feelings
Library of Congress categories
Toy and movable books

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