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Caterpillar Summer

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  2,564 ratings  ·  435 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 2nd 2019 by Bloomsbury Children's Books
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Popular Answered Questions
Pen&Quill Read Such a great question! I know you only asked for two, but..... I'm gonna give you a few more.

The ocean heard my anger, and eventually washed it away.

Such a great question! I know you only asked for two, but..... I'm gonna give you a few more.

The ocean heard my anger, and eventually washed it away.

She hoped Mom didn't see her as someone who existed just to make Chicken happy. She had her own thoughts, her own ideas, her own things she liked that had nothing to do with Chicken.

Cat had looked the scariest future in the eye and had been rescued from it at the last second. She had landed someplace soft. She had landed here.

Cat liked how he explained things. He didn't treat her like a little kid, but he didn't act like she was already supposed to know what to do.

Her heart shone with love-for the island, for Lily and Macon, for Mom and Chicken, even for airplanes, which made the whole world a few hours away.

After all, it wasn't everyday Cat made a friend, gained an enemy, and entered a fishing contest.

Oh........! I hope that helps.
Happy reading!(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.36  · 
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 ·  2,564 ratings  ·  435 reviews

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Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A book that makes you hold it close in a hug at the end and just sigh. My heart broke over and over again for Cat and Chicken and everyone around them . . . it broke and it also filled up with love. I never thought I would care about sharks, or fishing, so much! This is quite possibly my favorite summer read, and it's only early June! ...more
If you look at my "reading dates" you will likely notice that it took me more than a month to finish with Gillian McDunn's Caterpillar Summer. And the reason why this has been the case is simply that I kind of majorly lost interest for a while because at least to and for me there are far too many obviously and standardly tried and true plot and theme coincidences and also just too many stereotypically rendered characters present in Caterpillar Summer to make McDunn's novel all that personally en ...more
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
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 p
Ms. B
Dec 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens, 2020
When Cat (aka Caterpillar or Catherine) and Chicken (aka Henry) are sent to live with their grandparents, they discover a family they never knew they had. It reminded me a little bit of the classic Heidi another story in which a young girl bonds with a grandparent.
Nov 17, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-my-students

I read this one with my fourth grade students, so my review is mostly based off of them.

This one was great! I teach in Georgia, so my kids found it really fun to read a book that talks a lot about Atlanta. I thought this was a great book in many ways and brought up a lot of great discussions like about other cultures and Autism. My students really enjoyed it and seemed to really connect to the character of Chicken (I am a special education teacher, so my kids have learning, mental, and p
Stephanie Fitzgerald
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
What stood out to me:
The relationship between Cat and Macon that changed and developed.
That Cat and her mom keep the memory of a loved one alive by talking about him; Cat lets her younger brother “borrow her memories” of their father, because Chicken has none of his own.
Memorable quotes:
(Pg.191) “I miss him backward when I think about piggyback rides or cracking eggs. And I miss him forward when I think of all the things he isn’t here for, the things he won’t ever be here for.”- Cat
Naomi Milliner
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you're looking for something with heart, humor, tremendously likable characters and adorable artwork to boot, look no further. Cat is a fully realized and highly sympathetic heroine, determined to keep her younger brother, Chicken, safe - even as she sometimes resents having to do so. Her conflicting emotions are very real, as is the portrayal of Chicken's autism. The relationship between Cat and her grandfather is my favorite, but all the relationships are memorable and powerful. Can't wait ...more
This is a great MG novel. Everyone is fleshed out and layered and though this story takes place over the course of three weeks, it feels real and natural. I really related to the main character Cat. I have three younger brothers that I spent a lot of time looking out for and watching when we were all kids and so I saw pieces of myself in Cat, especially in regards to the way that she takes care of her younger brother Chicken (note, Cat ((short for Caterpillar)) and Chicken are nicknames these si ...more
Gail Shepherd
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
Twelve year old Cat has never really had a chance to be a kid. Between taking care of her impulsive little brother Chicken (he's on the spectrum) and her distracted Mom (a picture book author juggling multiple jobs), Cat has always been the rock-steady anchor who holds her family together. Caterpillar Summer is the sweet tale of a girl getting back in touch with the wondrous child she is, even while she also gets to know her estranged grandparents. I loved this book for so many reasons it's hard ...more
Nicole Melleby
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Kids who take on adult responsibilities and the weight of the world and their loved ones on their shoulders are, if you haven't noticed, kind of my weak spot. Cat was exactly the type of character that I find oh so easy to fall in love with, and even easier to cheer for. This was a wonderful story about family and love, heartache and mending fences. Oh, and fishing, too! Highly recommended. ...more
Michele Knott
#heartprint story
Books like these suck me in. I think readers will love meeting Cat and will cheer for her and her family.
Joanne Kelleher
Aug 29, 2019 rated it liked it
This familiar fish-out-of-water setup finds Cat and her younger brother staying with unfamiliar relatives in an unfamiliar place for three weeks in the summer. In this case, it's staying with their maternal grandparents on Gingerbread Island in North Carolina. At first, Cat resists her grandmother's kindnesses and the charm of the island, but slowly she begins to enjoy the vacation, spend time with a new friend, and learn about her family history. She is still attentive to her brother, Chicken, ...more
Kristin Thorsness
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Caterpillar Summer – Gillian McDunn
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. B
Chris Baron
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing

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
Joshua Levy
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an absolute privilege to read an ARC of CATERPILLAR SUMMER. "Full of heart" is a phrase applicable to (thankfully) so many wonderful middle grade books--but even among them, this book is an exception.

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. A
Clare O'Connor
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Victoria Coe
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

CATERPILLAR SUMMER by Gillian McDunn stole my heart from the first page. Cat is there for her special needs younger brother. And when I say she's there for him, I mean she is THERE FOR HIM. Their relationship is printed on my heart forever.

But Cat and Chicken aren't the only two characters that stole my heart. I won't provide any spoilers, so let's just say the characters in this book are beyond lovable. Not perfect.
Reading_ Tamishly
Mar 08, 2022 rated it liked it
Dnfed this book halfway,. The writing isn't quite enjoyable for me. I don't like any of the characters either. A rare thing for me to not like a middle grade book. I can see why this book os a good one. I can feel what the author is trying to convey. However, I should not wait for a book to end when I am not enjoying it. ...more
Alex  Baugh
Cat Gladwell is an 11-year-old biracial girl who has way too much responsibility on her shoulders. Her African American dad passed away when she was younger, and now it's just herself, her mom, and younger brother, Chicken, a boy with special needs. Cat has always looked after Chicken while her mother, Amanda Gladwell, worked at home, writing a successful children's book series called Caterpillar & Chicken. Now she's committed to teaching a three-week Children's Literature class in Atlanta, Geor ...more
Kathy Martin
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a middle grade contemporary story about two kids and what they learn on their summer vacation.

Cat has just finished fifth grade. She has a younger brother called Chicken who has just finished first grade. Chicken has some issues that sounded to me like he would fit somewhere on the Autism Spectrum. He is subject to "meltdowns." He is bright and very focused on sharks. Lately, he has taken to running off. Cat spends a lot of time taking care of Chicken so that their mother can write her p
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Aug 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I don’t normally log books I read with my kids on here because my daughter keeps track of them. But this book was so lovely and so important to us that I don’t want to forget it- and I want every family to read it. We all clapped as we read the last page.
Dec 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was so sweet and it was such an easy but great read!
Shaye Miller
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The most important thing I can say about this book is GO GRAB A COPY NOW!! I read a lot of middle grade literature each year, but this is one of the BEST I’ve ever read.

Twelve-year-old Cat is Chicken’s older sister. She understands her little brother better than most and she is willing to constantly sacrifice her needs for his. This particular summer, they have plans to travel and stay with her best friend while her mom takes on a special class. But an emergency comes up, leaving Cat and Chicken
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 lit
This is a must-read middle grade. We feel so deeply for Cat so quickly, and those feelings only grow as the book goes on.

A few of my favorite things about this book:
-Each character (even the side characters) experiences growth in some form.
-The interpersonal relationships are so relatable, interesting, and layered. Cat and Macon's relationship is likely my very favorite, but I also love so much about Lilly, Chicken, Harriet, and more.
-I super love that the 'bad guy' in this book isn't cliche
May 21, 2019 rated it liked it
This was such a cute story about life, growing, changing, understanding, and forgiveness.

Cat and her brother Chicken have never met their maternal grandparents. When unexpected circumstances causes their mother to need a place for the children to go for the summer, the two kids are dropped off at their grandparents, people they never knew.

Cat expected a horrible summer but never expected to fall so in love with her grandparents and the little island they live on. She discovers secrets and even
Afoma (Reading Middle Grade)
In Caterpillar Summer, author McDunn explores family secrets, bullying, friendships, fishing, summer living, grandparent relationships, the grief of losing a parent, and so much more. This moving middle-grade novel is both fun and tender and will leave you with a real summer feeling! If you love heartwarming stories about sibling bonds set in idyllic locations, then you should definitely check this one out. I listened to the audiobook and the narration is excellent.

Read my full review on my blog
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Gillian McDunn has written a beautiful generational family story. The bonds between parents and children, siblings, and grandparents and grandchildren are very special. McDunn also reveals how fragile these bonds can be. She has created such real characters—I was rooting for Cat all the way! The descriptive writing drew me right into the story. I could feel myself on the beach and riding a bike on Gingerbread Island. I’m excited to share Cat’s summer story with my students.
Jenni Walsh
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, novel19s
My daughter likes the show Sofia the First. In one of the earlier (and better..) episodes, Sofia's friend Vivian sings a song "Oh you, oh you, oh you make my heart zing..."

That little ditty kept popping into my mind as I read Caterpillar Summer. I adored the evolution of the characters in this book. The storyline was complex, yet not overcomplicated. The dialogue and internal narration was perfection. The emotions were heartfelt. A spectacular middle grade debut.
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“Don’t be ridiculous. I’ll always be in your book.” 0 likes
“A long time ago, I tried. More than once. She didn’t want to hear it. For a while, she wouldn’t even talk to Lily, which just about broke your grandmother’s heart. Slowly, they got back in touch over the phone. The occasional photograph. I never wanted to upset that delicate balance.” She watched him pull a bandana from his pocket. Sometimes Macon was so afraid of doing the wrong thing that it stopped him from doing the right thing. “At first I thought we’d patch it up. You were born and the years went by. Chicken came along. And then your dad’s cancer. It was so fast. And you lost him, Cat—you, and Chicken, and Amanda all lost him.” Macon wiped his eyes. “When I think about how close I got to never knowing you and Chicken—when I think about all the years I missed that I can never get back . . .” Cat’s eyes filled and the planks of the pier blurred. She willed herself not to blink. Macon cleared his throat, folding the bandana into a square. “I’ve spent years being sad and that’s enough. Now it’s time to make it right.” It wasn’t right yet, not to Cat. “You were wrong, you know. Having me was a good thing.” Macon looked surprised. “Well, of course, Cat. I know that. You can tell I know that now, right? Don’t hate the” 0 likes
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