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Caterpillar Summer

4.71  ·  Rating details ·  142 ratings  ·  71 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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4.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  142 ratings  ·  71 reviews

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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
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
CATERPILLAR SUMMER by Gillian McDunn tells the sweet story of Cat and her younger brother Chicken during an unexpected visit to Gingerbread Island (where they meet their grandparents for the very first time). McDunn thoughtfully explores Cat’s love for her family, all the effort she puts into keeping her brother happy, and how her actions impact her own happiness. Relationships are the heart of this story—how expectations and assumptions can cloud us from seeing who someone is and what someone n ...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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Ms. Yingling
Nov 24, 2018 rated it liked it
E ARC provided by publisher through Netgalley

Cat and her younger brother Henry (know as Chicken) have a great life in their San Francisco neighborhood with their artist/professor mother, but are looking forward to spending the summer with family friends who have moved while their mother is teaching a class. When the friends suddenly have to go care for a grandmother in India, Cat and Chicken end up with grandparents they never knew who live on Gingerbread Island near Florida. Their mother has to
Sarah R. Baughman
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This beautiful debut is so full of voice and heart! I adored thoughtful, smart, compassionate Cat and her sweet, creative brother Chicken. Vivid descriptions of setting had me smelling salty ocean air and casting lines off the pier as I pondered messages about forgiveness, responsibility, and family.
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
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
Jenni Walsh
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novel19s, 2019
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.
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.
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Catherine Doyle
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely beautiful.
I had the opportunity to read a review copy of this middle grade fiction book that was shared with my #BookRelays group. This realistic novel tells the story of a girl and her younger brother with special needs who have the opportunity to experience a wonderful summer with their grandparents. Caterpillar is a twelve-year-old who has taken on much of the responsibility for caring for her little brother, who’s impulsive behavior has her constantly on edge. Their mother, a respected children’s pict ...more
Mandy Stallard
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookposse
Cat's summer plans get turned upside down when her best friend ends up in India visiting his sick grandmother. Instead of spending time with her friend, her mom dumps Cat and her brother Chicken off with her grandparents. The thing is, Cat has never even met her grandparents. She isn't sure why, but she knows that there is a riff between her mom and her grandparents, and now she is spending three weeks on a North Carolina island with them.

Cat normally spends most of her time looking after her l
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 t ...more
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Cat always takes care of her little brother Chicken. But he's more high-maintenance than most little brothers. He has a tendency to run off, he's extremely impulsive, and doesn't seem to understand scary things like that cars will run over you and if you can't swim, the ocean will kill you. But Cat doesn't mind; after all she really loves Chicken. And that love has inspired her mom who has written a series of picture books about Cat and Chicken. Which is great because they need the money since C ...more
Reading in the Middle Grades (Stacey DeCotis)
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 quie ...more
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 he
Katie Reilley
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to the author and Bloomsbury for sharing an ARC of this novel with our #bookexpedition group.

Caterpillar Summer is a beautifully written middle grade novel that will steal your heart. Twelve year old Cat and her younger brother Chicken are unexpectedly spending three weeks of the summer with grandparents they’ve never met on Gingerbread Island in North Carolina. Cat and Chicken have always been close, and with their mom being a busy picture book author/illustrator, it’s up to Cat to k
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
Cat and Chicken live in San Francisco with their mother who works several jobs, but one is to be a children’s book author with books that feature Cat and Chicken as a caterpillar and chicken. When they head across the country for a summer job, their plans suddenly fall through. Now Cat and Chicken must stay with grandparents they have never met before while their mother works in Atlanta. Their grandparents live on Gingerbread Island, a place their mother hasn’t returned to since before Cat was b ...more
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, 2018
Below is a review I wrote for a class after I got an advanced copy. It's very positive because I was trying to picture how a middle grader might enjoy it. And yes the book was entertaining but I personally found it a bit too slow for my tastes. So this is a 3.5 star that I'm rounding up to a 4.


“A Heartwarming Summer Read in Gillian McDunn’s Debut”

While reading the picture books her mother writes, biracial 11-year old Cat feels disillusioned with the neatly tied up happy endings. Sh
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