Caterpillar Summer

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

What grabbed me about this book was the cover. Right off the bat, I was intrigued by the title and the gorgeous beach on the front. A fishing pole and what appears to be a brother and a sister told me this would be a perfect summer read, and it was. This story touched my heart in so many ways-both with family and self-discovery. My heart broke and also healed. I would recommend to those who love heartwarming stories. 

Thank you NetGalley and Bloomsbury for this arc in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Cat and her brother Chicken have a special bond. Their father passed away and their mother constantly works in her home office, so Cat takes on the role of parent.  She does everything from cooking to knowing how to calm Chicken when he has a meltdown. She knows his favorite toy and lets him sleep next to her.  Chicken has a lot of needs, more than a different brother might, but Cat handles them with patience and grace.  Cat is the unnoticed glue holding her family together. 

When their summer plans quickly change, Cat and Chicken are put in the care of grandparents they’ve never met before. The reason why her mother hasn’t spoken with her grandfather in twelve years is a mystery to Cat - a mystery she wants to solve. As Cat gets to know her grandparents, the island they live on, and a new friend, Cat starts to let go and be a kid. She starts to trust others to help with Chicken, and she learns a lot about herself and her family along the way.
Was this review helpful?
Kat has been growing up taking a great deal of responsibility for her younger brother whose care can often be challenging. Circumstances call for the two children to stay with their grandparents during the summer, and the visit opens doors to new relationships and understanding for the entire family.

Early digital copy provided by NetGalley.
Was this review helpful?
Chicken and Cat are driven by their mother to stay with grandparents they have never met.  The discomfort is palpable and the loneliness for a father who passed away is still being felt by everyone. The beauty of living on an island is deeply realized by the children and life lessons are learned at a slow, comfortable pace.  I really enjoyed this coming of age story.
Was this review helpful?
I wasn't sure what to expect, but I enjoyed reading this. An interesting story with fun characters. Well written.
Was this review helpful?
Cat has always helped take care of her brother Chicken.  While not specifically stated in the book, Chicken is clearly on the spectrum and needs constant attention.  Cat's mom is a busy author and illustrator so Cat often is responsible for Chicken.  Just like Caterpillar in her's mom's book, Cat is the good one, the patient one. When plans fall through for their summer vacation Cat and Chicken end up on an island with the grandparents they have never met.  Turns out they don't know much about their mom's childhood or why she hasn't talked to her father since before Cat was born.
Can Cat find a way to reunite them - maybe through fishing?  And can she start to develop a life outside of just taking care of Chicken?
This was a sweet book.  The mom's book characters, Cat and Chicken appeared to be a nod to Elephant and Piggie :) I enjoyed this story - there was some good tension near the end that resolved well.
Was this review helpful?
In Caterpillar Summer by Gillian McDunn, Cat and her brother Henry (nicknamed "Chicken") live with their mom in San Francisco. Since their mom is always working, Cat is responsible for taking care of Chicken who has autism. The two have their summer plans derailed when their mother has to work and they can't spend the three weeks with their friends. Cat and Chicken must stay with their mom's parents whom they have never met. Their grandmother, Lily, and their grandfather, Macon, introduce them to life on their small island off the Atlantic Coast. At first Cat isn't sure about Macon and his stand-offish personality. She can see why her mother never talks about her parents. But when Cat enters a fishing contest, she bonds with Macon as he teaches her how to fish. She realizes how much she was missing these grandparents in her life and hopes that she can heal the hurt between her mom and her parents.



I thought this was such a fun middle-grade book. I loved the whimsical feel of summer that I miss from being a little kid. But I can also see myself in Cat. She is so weighed down by responsibility for her brother and her mother at a young age. She is wise beyond her years as she tries to understand what caused the rift between her family members. I also loved the internal battle Cat experiences between responsibility to her brother and her desire to just be a kid.



I am amazed by McDunn's amazing ability to address so many different themes in just one book. This book is about friendship, responsibility, love, family, first impressions, and second chances. I would recommend this for anyone looking for great realistic fiction and a heart-warming story.
Was this review helpful?
I requested CATERPILLAR SUMMER because of the setting on the NC coast and because of the sibling dynamic mentioned in the description. Otherwise, I'm not a huge MG reader, or rather, I am pretty picky when it comes to MG books. Thankfully CATERPILLAR SUMMER exceeded my expectations. The beach setting is beautifully rendered and McDunn does a terrific job at conveying complex family dynamics in an entertaining and approachable way. I particularly enjoyed the nuances of Cat's relationship with her mother and grandparents. The story concludes with some nice messages but never feels preachy or heavy-handed. I will look forward to other books by this author.
Was this review helpful?
This was a beautiful story! I expected for it to be similar to the book Rules, but I was mistaken.  This book is about family dynamics, holding a grudge, possible forgiveness and what constitutes love. There were many places in this book that tears poured out of my eyes.  This book would make an excellent read aloud or for my classroom library. Thank you @netgalley for the ARC.
Was this review helpful?
Wonderful middle grade read about family, forgiveness, and love. Cat "Caterpillar" and her brother "Chicken" unexpectedly spend the summer with the grandparents they just met. Their mom, still dealing with the death of their father, puts her work first and Cat has to step up and help. Chicken, 7, has some challenges and often runs away, but Cat knows how to help him when no one else can. Cat spends the time trying to figure out why her mom stopped talking to her grandparents, especially her quiet, reserved grandfather. She participates in a fishing contest in hopes it'll bring her closer to her grandfather and help mend his relationship with her mother (who was a fishing champion). These 3 weeks spent in North Carolina (from San Francisco) were the most important 3 weeks of Cat's life as she tries to figure out so much on her own.

This book touches upon so many relatable and relevant themes. Cat and Chicken are biracial and this left me wondering if this was the cause of the rift in relationship between daughter and father. One of the characters Cat soon discovers isn't all bad and all good - she realizes that people can be a mix of both some bad and some good. The self-discovery for Cat is wonderful to see how she changes throughout the book. Chicken represents siblings (and children) who have behavioral challenges (he may have been autistic but I think it's great that there was no label on him). Characters were so well written I wish this book never ended!
Was this review helpful?
I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley. This book has an interesting way of sharing enough details to provoke a lot of questions; I predict children reading this will have a lot of "whys;" why did the grandparents go so many years without seeing the children? Why was Cat treated so differently? Just what did Chicken experience? What caused the rift between Cat's mother and her father? How long before they would visit again? I had expected that there might have been more about the death of their father. The book has a gentle way of sharing differences while including commonalities.
Was this review helpful?
CATERPILLAR SUMMER is beautiful. I just finished this book and am already missing the characters, the scenery, the writing, all of it. 

The story follows Cat and her younger brother Chicken. Cat is only 12 but has adult responsibilities, including taking care of Chicken while her mother works. Sadly, Cat and Chicken’s father passed away some years ago. Cat’s memories of her dad and the way she processes her feelings about missing him “in all directions” help us learn so much about who she is - a perfect blend of brave and vulnerable. 

When Cat and Chicken unexpectedly spend a few summer weeks at their grandparent’s house, we learn more about a family history of mistakes, grudges and unintended consequences. Largely thanks to Cat, all of the bad gives way to the good as love, forgiveness and second chances take over. 

My gratitude to NetGalley for an ARC of Caterpillar Summer in exchange for my honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
Twelve-year-old Cat takes on a lot of responsibility caring for her brother Chicken, who has meltdowns and sometimes wanders off.  Their mom spends a lot of time working to provide for them, after their dad died.  Cat and Chicken are supposed to visit friends for a few weeks while their mom works, but the family they are going to be visiting has to leave town unexpectedly.  The solution is for Cat and Chicken to their grandparents, who they've never met.  Cat is determined to find out what happened between her grandfather and mom that caused the big rift and strained relationship.  A sweet story of family, friendships, and forgiveness.
Was this review helpful?
Sometimes kids have to grow up fast, and that’s the reality for Cat. Since her Dad passed away, she has to care for her little brother who is autistic. We’re talking food, bed times, chase him down if he runs off in public—basically, she’s the parent because mom’s working. Most of the time it’s all good, but once in a while, she wishes she could be free of the responsibility. 

When plans fall through for Cat to stay with her friend while her mom works, she and her brother get shipped off to a little island off the Carolina coast. Grandma is thrilled to see them and friendly from the start, but grandpa is more stand-off-ish. When grandma takes over caring for her little brother, Cat suddenly finds herself able to explore new things, like fishing, making a friend, being a kid for once, and discovering the mystery of what happened between her mom and grandpa that caused the rift in their family to start with. 

This is a powerful look at why relationships matter and why anger can be such a destructive thing if left to affect relationships for far too long. Gillian’s writing is real and powerful. I love the ocean and her descriptions brought me right back there. 

Well done. I’ll be getting this one for my shelves.
Was this review helpful?
McDunn beautifully weaves an emotion-filled, coming-of-age story with a strong female main character named Cat who you will adore as much as me. Cat is a protective big sister for her special needs brother who often has meltdowns and runs away but she's ready to be more -- she's ready to have her own life and for her mom to see that. Cat finds the opportunity when her children’s book author-illustrator mom leaves she and her brother at their estranged grandparents' house for the summer. There, Cat develops a special relationship with her grandparents, helps heal the rift between her grandfather and her mother, makes a good friend, and learns how to fish so can enter the local kids fishing contest. It's an absolutely lovely story that addresses growing up, race, special needs, family, and reconciliation.
Was this review helpful?
This book is a wonderful moving story!  I loved the characters and how they interacted.  I got lost in the story when I read this!  I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it to others!
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this story about family and forgiveness. Cat is always taking care of her younger brother Chicken, for their mom and it’s not easy. Chicken is autistic and that make him a bit more challenging for most people. He gets upset easily and has a tendency to run off in public places. But his sister Cat is the most responsible older sister, and she does a great job looking out for him. The only problem is, she is always responsible for him. I really fell in love with Caterpillar!
When plans change unexpectedly the two siblings end up at their grandparents for a few weeks during summer break in North Carolina. This sounds great, but they’ve never even met them before. At first it’s uncomfortable and awkward, but over time a relationship is formed and the kids fall in love with the island and their newly discovered grandparents. Cat even gets to be a kid again, as she learn to fish with her grandpa for a fishing contest coming up. 
I loved this book! Such a feel good middle grade story! I highly recommend it! 
Thank you to Bloomsbury Children’s Books and NetGalley for this ARC. My opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Interest Level: 3-6

How would you feel if you were a fifth grader (soon to be sixth grader) and you basically had to be a parent to your younger brother? This is the life Cat leads. She loves her little brother, Chicken, but she has to walk him home from school (which was difficult because Chicken liked to run and hide), she had to fix his dinner, and get him to bed. Their dad passed away a few years ago from cancer and their mom writes children's books and is always working. Cat can't go with her friends after school to the ice cream shop because Chicken would mess things up and she doesn't even get to have her own bedroom because Chicken has to be in the room with her. Summer is here now and she is so excited that her and Chicken get to stay with her best friend, who recently moved to Georgia, for three weeks while her mom teaches a class at the local college. When they get to Atlanta they find out some upsetting news - Rishi and his family had to fly to India because his grandmother had a stroke and they have to go take care of her. Cat and Chicken get the surprise of their life when they find out they are staying for three weeks with grandparents they didn't even know they have on an island off of the North Carolina coast. When they arrive they find a very happy and loving grandmother and a very reserved and standoffish grandfather. Chicken falls immediately in love with his new grandmother and the island but Cat is more reluctant, especially when their grandfather seems like he doesn't even want them there. Will Cat have to watch Chicken and his every single move for the next three weeks? Will she unravel the mystery of why they never knew about their mom's parents? Will Cat be lonely for the next three weeks or is there a chance she will make a friend and actually be a kid? And why does she enter a fishing contest when she has never been fishing? Do not miss this incredible book to find out all these answers and so much more!!

Caterpillar Summer is one of my favorite books of 2019! The love in this book between the different family members will make your heart just overflow with joy, the sadness of losing a parent will tear your heart out, and the friendships will mend your heart again. If you have read some of my post then you know that I am a pretty slow reader but I devoured this book in just a couple of days! I could not put it down!! This is a must read!!!
Was this review helpful?
This was such a powerful story of family relationships and how anger can linger for years and affect more relationships if not acknowledged and discussed. I can't imagine what Cat felt like when her mother drops her and her brother off at their grandparents' home for three weeks. They never met before and now have to learn to live with them. 

What happens next allows Cat to spend time being a kid, while her grandmother takes care of her brother, who needs a little extra attention. And allows Cat to learn about what happened between her mother and her parents before she was born. There are so many children who must grow up quickly - whether it's taking care of younger siblings, translating conversations for their parents, or dealing with heartache and loss at an early age. I think so many of them will see themselves in Cat - always having to be good, going above and beyond and trying not to expect too much.

I really enjoyed Gillian's writing style - her characters were well developed and their backstories came to the forefront as you learned more about them. I loved the island setting and can imagine reading this over the summer and just feeling the heat of the sand on the beach, the cool ice cream, and the rain on the pier. This was a beautifully written story and one that I think so many children will relate to.
Was this review helpful?
This book touched my heart and my mind!  I was so sad to see it end and I hope that the author decides to write another story about Cat, Chicken, and their family (such as their grandparents making a trip to the West Coast)!!  I can't wait to get this book into the hands of my middle schoolers who loved The Penderwicks, The Vanderbeekers, and The Forget-Me-Not-Summer series!
Was this review helpful?