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Cat is a character I fell in love with from page one. Her determination to keep her impulsive little brother, Chicken, safe … and happy … and entertained … and out of her hard-working, single mother’s hair … is both admirable and bittersweet (she misses out on so many kid things!). When a last-minute change of plans sends Cat and Chicken to stay with grandparents they’ve never met for three weeks of summer vacation, Cat is worried about how Chicken will cope. But as the days go by, Cat makes friends, enters a fishing contest, and learns that she and Chicken are separate people who can function apart. This funny, at times heartbreaking (have tissues handy!), and ultimately uplifting story explores the many varied and complex relationships that make up families, and hits home the important message that people aren’t fully good or completely bad, we’re all somewhere in-between. As a former 5th and 6th grade teacher, I highly recommend Caterpillar Summer for both an addition to classroom libraries, and a great read aloud.
Gillian McDunn's writing strikes that beautiful balance of being both sophisticated and entirely accessible to children. Through clever insights about culture, family, and human nature, as well as several complex emotional relationships--sometimes presented in adorable picture books within the novel--Caterpillar Summer expertly explores several difficult themes, including new friendship, loss, and responsibility. The cast is diverse and the plot is engaging. I love Chicken and Cat dearly and can't wait to read McDunn's next book!
My thirteen-year-old daughter took a break from reading Agatha Christie mysteries (her current craze) to read Caterpillar Summer, and she loved it. She said she loved how McDunn really seemed to "get" what it's like to be young, without making it seem little kiddish, and she loved how real Cat is, with her full range of emotions. I loved it just as much as she did and found myself wanting to underline many lines that were so insightful and/or written in a surprising, funny, original way. Reading it made me yearn for an island to take my family to, where my kids can explore and have adventures, and maybe meet a Cat to be friends with. I hated to put the book down when I finished it! Luckily, my eleven-year-old son and I are reading it together at bedtime now, so I get to hang out with Cat and Chicken some more! And reading it aloud is so fun because I get to enjoy the excellent writing even more when my son and I take turns reading it to each other. This is a great book for all ages and interests, and I can't wait to read more books by McDunn!
Caterpillar Summer is a favorite with our family already!
This heartwarming book is sure to be a classic. I immediately relate to the strong and independent Cat, and the adorable and challenging Chicken. I love the complex dynamics of an older sibling trying to do all she can to make sure Chicken is safe, but still--she's just a kid herself--and who is she in all of this? The dynamics shift even more when everything that is expected for the summer suddenly shifts, and more family adventures enter into the mix.
The setting swept me away, and the way the characters interact within the gorgeous environment is very much a part of what makes this book so special.
Emotional and authentic--dealing with difficult questions of identity, loss, sibling relationships, and independence, with moments or beautiful clarity and love, CATERPILLAR SUMMER is the perfect book for Middle-graders who like to get immersed in a story with characters they will always remember!
Cat and little-bro Chicken are forced to spend part of the summer with their estranged grandparents on an island in North Carolina, dashing all of Cat's hopes for her usual vacation. As is, it falls to Cat to care for Chicken; to chase after Chicken; to make sure he's safe and happy and calm. And now, Cat has the burden of those responsibilities AND the frustration of an unfamiliar environment, surrounded by unfamiliar people. But as her connection to the island grows and Cat rediscovers her childhood, she finds more and more love where she least expects it: For her family, yes; but also for herself.
CATERPILLAR SUMMER is full of heart; the happy and the sad; and everything in between. Perfect for kids (and their parents too).
Beautifully written, Gillian McDunn's Cat captures so much of what it is to be that overly responsible big sibling who loves and serves without questioning if life is perhaps asking too much. It was a joy to see her take on her own interests and discover her own freedom and in doing so to see her family also grow. The relationship between Amanda and her dad also touched awfully close to home and felt very true and hard and promising.
This was the first Sunshine State Young Readers Award title our granddaughter chose to read. I purchased all 15 books for her to read over the summer before entering 3rd grade, and she LOVED this book. When I asked her what she would rate it, she gave me two thumbs up, and said she it was one of her favorite books ever. It is leveled on AR as a 3.8 = 3rd grade, 8th month. Enjoy!
I read this book to my two youngest children, ages 7 and 10, and we LOVED it! In fact, the one word my son used when we finished was... AMAZING! We instantly fell in love with Cat and her little brother Chicken on their summer journey. We laughed, worried, screamed for joy, and grew to love each relationship in the story. It is so beautifully written that you feel like you are there seeing and experiencing Gingerbread Island with them. I love how the story empowers you to find your true self, forgive others and develop meaningful relationships. Caterpillar Summer is truly enjoyable read for all ages. Can't wait for the next book!
I don't know that I have enough beautiful words for this story. Just looking at the cover, I knew I would like it, but I'm happy to report I loved Caterpillar Summer even more than I can say. When I wasn't marveling over the too-adorable Cat and Chicken cartoons, I was swept up in the setting and McDunn's heartwarming characters. The relationship between Macon and Cat was a particular favorite, and there were moments of such simple, perfectly-executed poignancy, I found myself catching my breath. This book should be in every beach-lovers hands--young and old.