Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Caterpillar Summer” as Want to Read:
Caterpillar Summer
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Caterpillar Summer

4.72  ·  Rating details ·  90 ratings  ·  54 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
Expected publication: April 2nd 2019 by Bloomsbury Children's Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Caterpillar Summer, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Caterpillar Summer

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  90 ratings  ·  54 reviews

Sort order
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Catherine Doyle
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely beautiful.
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.
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
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
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
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
Kristin Crouch
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Bloomsbury Kids for providing an ARC of Caterpillar Summer to #collabookation.
Caterpillar and Chicken are a sister-brother duo with so much love between them it'll warm your heart. But lately life has gotten much tougher. With their dad having died, their mom is barely keeping afloat by working three jobs. As a result, Caterpillar is taking on more than her fair share of her brother's care. He's sweet, loving, and wonderful, but he has unique needs and Caterpillar is concerned that
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
Jess Redman
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this fun and tender MG contemporary about family, forgiveness, and finding your own voice.

Cat's summer is not going as planned. She was supposed to go to Atlanta to visit her best friend. In Atlanta, she would finally get to spend time with her mother, who has been working multiple jobs since Cat's father passed away. And she would have help taking care of Chicken, her younger brother who is on the spectrum and who is often Cat's responsibility.

Instead, Cat and Chicken are dro
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
Rajani LaRocca
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to read an Advance Reader's Copy of this beautiful book. The main character, Cat, takes on the bulk of the burden of caring for her little brother, Chicken. But she's looking forward to spending a few weeks with her best friend all the way across the country while her mom is working. When those plans go astray, Cat and Chicken are left with her mom's parents on Gingerbread Island, NC. Cat has to navigate a place full of strangers while managing to keep Chicken safe.

I love this
Lorie Barber
For me, the sign of a great book is that I don’t want the story to end, missing the setting and characters the minute I read the last word.

This is true of Caterpillar Summer (thanks to the author and publisher for sharing with my #bookexpedition reading group.) Cat & Chicken, along with all the supporting characters, we’re beautifully developed. I was more than pleased to see the subplot of Chicken’s special needs, and the choices Cat made out of both her love for him and, later, for her ow
Lisa Ramee
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's been a long time since I've been a middle schooler, but I so related to Cat, and I think many young people will even if they don't have a younger sibling who needs special attention. So many people take on more than their "fair share" and often feel unable to ask for help. It was heartwarming (and bittersweet) watching how desperate Cat is to take good care of her brother and not make any mistakes or any waves. McDunn does a masterful job making us feel for both Cat and Chicken and even of ...more
Rebecca Balcárcel
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kid-lit, reviewed
Compelling and charming! When Cat and her brother get dropped for three weeks at their OTHER grandparents' house -- the ones they've never even met! -- both of them grow in ways they couldn't have predicted. On a North Carolina island, Cat learns some big things: 1) how to fish 2) how to get silent-type Grandpa to talk 3) how to see a bully for more than his meanness 4) how to let her special needs brother fend for himself a little 5) how to eat hushpuppies! McDunn writes with on-point honesty a ...more
Sofiya Pasternack
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novel19s
What I Liked
This is a beautiful, moving book that is so sweet and touching it will have you reaching for the tissues multiple times. Cat is so relatable because she's strong and independent, but so utterly devoted to her brother, Chicken, that she is losing what it means to be herself. When they unexpectedly have to spend a few weeks with the grandparents they'd never met, she's constantly worrying about Chicken. But bit by bit, she learns to be her own person apart from him, and learns that he
Matthew Smith
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I recently read an advance copy of this novel, and loved it. All of the details are hyper-specific and the effect is to create a totally-immersive story with a lot of emotional power. There's a point where the narrator, Cat, tries to remember the feeling of being held, but can't. The brother, Chicken, eats sesame seeds off a hamburger bun one at a time. When he takes his shoes off, he leaves them in different places because he "likes a little mystery." The Grandmother, Lily, has hands that are " ...more
Renee Johnson
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful book about a girl and her brother who unexpectedly spend the summer with their grandparents whom they'd never met before. I really enjoyed the depth of each character, and the way it highlights the good and bad in each person. Cat, the main character, struggles with taking care of her brother who needs extra attention, while trying to figure out how to also be her own person. I really enjoyed this book and found myself thinking about the characters when I was away from the bo ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »