Review! Caterpillar Summer by Gillian McDunn Plus the ##DragonPearlRRP prize pack winner!

Happy Monday!

I get to announce that Dianne McLaren-Brighton has won the Dragon Pear prize pack! I will be emailing you to see where you would like your prize sent.


This amazing prize was sent to me by Disney Books and Rick Riordan Reads.

For my review of Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee – click HERE

Now on to today’s review!

Caterpillar Summer

by Gillian McDunn

304 pages – ages 8+

Will be Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books on April 2, 2019


Publisher’s Synopsis: 

Cat and her brother Chicken have always had a very special bond–Cat is one of the few people who can keep Chicken happy. When he has a “meltdown” she’s the one who scratches his back and reads his favorite story. She’s the one who knows what Chicken needs. Since their mom has had to work double-hard to keep their family afloat after their father passed away, Cat has been the glue holding her family together.

But even the strongest glue sometimes struggles to hold. When a summer trip doesn’t go according to plan, Cat and Chicken end up spending three weeks with grandparents they never knew. For the first time in years, Cat has the opportunity to be a kid again, and the journey she takes shows that even the most broken or strained relationships can be healed if people take the time to walk in one another’s shoes.

What I thought: 

This was a very touching story. Cat is an older sibling that has to give up a lot to help take care of her little brother who is on the spectrum. Cat loves her brother, Chicken, but is sometimes resentful for having to spend so much of her time with him. As a teen, I do see examples of older siblings having to take care of younger ones due to single parent households or both parents working. The plot and characters and situation are very real. When Cat and Chicken’s summer plans change, they find themselves at their maternal grandparents house on Gingerbread Island. Their grandmother is very happy to have them but their grandfather seems a bit distant.  Cat warms up to her grandparents she has never known and trusts her grandmother with chicken, leaving Cat the chance to really be a kid. Cat rides, bikes, plays with friends, learn to fish, she is finally getting to enjoy the things kids get to enjoy. She is also determined to figure out why her mom and grandparents don’t really talk to each other anymore. I like that Cat and Chicken’s mom is a picture book author/illustrator (fun angle for a reviewer like me!). There is a predictable subplot involving a bully but it helps to move the story along. What I really enjoyed about the book is it is just a good, solid, story with characters you can empathize with. The publisher aims this book towards middle grade readers, while perfectly appropriate for MG audience,I think a bit older kid and also adults will fall in love with the story. I would rate it at 12+ The writing is flawless and the reader looses himself in the summer on the little island along with Cat and Chicken. I could almost smell the salty air and feel the sunshine on my face. Bonus points for a beautiful cover too! This is McDunn’s debut novel and I am looking forward to many more from her.

Five out of five bookworms 

Categories: Age 9+

Tags: , , , ,

5 replies

  1. I think I would like this book!

  2. Love your reviews, Erik. I am a little confused by your age recommendation of “Caterpillar Summer.” I think it is the publisher who rated it 8+. But you mention MG (8-12 in my eyes) and then, in your review say it’s best for 12+
    ( and adults will appreciate this title). Could you clarify??
    Your fan and MG writer, Beth

    • I’m sorry for the confusion. I forgot to clarify that the story is appropriate for an 8-year-old, but that I believe that the story arc itself would be better appreciated by the older MG crowd. Thank you for asking that question!

  3. The new book does look interesting! And I’m very happy to see that the prize pack went to my kids’ school media specialist – which is where I was going to send the book if I won it. I’m jealous about that cool water bottle, though! 😀

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