McDunn portrays the intertwined emotional lives of middle-school kids with sensitivity and precision. . . . An insightful story of friendship and change.” Booklist, starred review
“Meg's first-person narration is emotive and candid. . . . Refreshingly genuine.” Kirkus Reviews
“The dynamics of shifting middle school friendships ring true, and readers will recognize themselves and their friends in Meg's struggle with her loyalty to Beatrix, her budding friendship with Hazel, and her need to be true to herself.” School Library Connection
“McDunn deftly sketches Meg's struggles amid seventh grade's unspoken social order. . . . Readers will identify with the pitch-perfect middle school dynamics.” Publishers Weekly
“Fully realized characters and high-stakes yet realistic middle school dilemmas with real-world applications make this a royal addition to shelves.” School Library Journal
“An engaging, honest bookI love Cat, and you will, too!” Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Newbery Honor-winning author of THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE on CATERPILLAR SUMMER
“I could almost smell the ocean air as I read Gillian McDunn's Caterpillar Summer. What a beautiful story of family, forgiveness, life on an island, and growing up.” Kate Messner, author of BREAKOUT and THE SEVENTH WISH on CATERPILLAR SUMMER
“An engrossing, heartwarming, beautifully written debut about building and rebuilding family ties.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review, on CATERPILLAR SUMMER
“McDunn's poignant, gratifying debut about friendship and family encourages both empathy and hope.” Publishers Weekly, starred review, on CATERPILLAR SUMMER
“Fans of the books Rules by Cynthia Lord and Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine will enjoy this well-written book about the struggles of a fractured family.” School Library Connection on CATERPILLAR SUMMER
“A sweet summer story that middle grade readers will appreciate.” School Library Journal on CATERPILLAR SUMMER
“Readers will find Cat to be an admirable and fully credible heroine . . . and the idyllic island setting makes for a wistful summer escape.” BCCB on CATERPILLAR SUMMER
Gr 4–8—Seventh graders Meg and Beatrix have been best friends forever—or, at least since kindergarten. Knowing this has made life and school effortless for otherwise anxious Meg. Until last year, when Queen Bee Beatrix invoked The Freeze on her. Ever since, Meg has been nervous about taking the wrong step with Beatrix, especially since that step may include taking a special science elective she was hand-picked for instead of the dance class they've always taken together (which Meg is horrible at, anyway). Things only get harder when a new girl, odd-ball Hazel, moves into the neighborhood, becomes Meg's partner in her science elective, and brings a literal hive of bees that Beatrix and her well-connected mother think are dangerous. When one of Beatrix's family dogs is attacked and stung numerous times, Meg tries to keep the peace with Beatrix. Meg shares more than she should about Hazel's past, and things get stickier than honey. While the three main players and their families default to white, the cast of secondary characters is diverse. Additionally, commentary on the importance of bees and the nature of girl "drama" versus "boys disagreeing" deftly graces the overarching friendship and familial plot lines, creating a truthful look at the complicated friendships of middle school and what happens when, forced to choose between a new friend and an old one, you choose yourself instead. VERDICT Fully realized characters and high-stakes yet realistic middle school dilemmas with real-world applications make this a royal addition to shelves for upper elementary and middle school readers.—Brittany Drehobl, Morton Grove Public Library, IL
It's tough to stand up to the queen.
Anxious Meg has always deferred to bold, popular Beatrix—knowing, unhappily, that Beatrix will quickly freeze her out if she doesn't. Beatrix dictates what electives the two will share, what childhood traditions they will and won't retain, and what Meg must do or say to retain her favor. When Meg is one of four seventh graders to be accepted into the competitive science elective, the very thought of telling Beatrix that they will no longer share dance brings unparalleled terror. However, it is eccentric, bee-obsessed new girl Hazel who relates that ill news at a more ill-fated neighborhood party, invoking Beatrix's immediate animosity and Meg's warring admiration and consternation. As Meg and Hazel begin to forge a connection through a science project featuring Hazel's bees, Meg must find the courage to face down her failing friendship with Beatrix, her town's (and her own) prejudices against the bees, and, ultimately, herself. Meg's first-person narration is emotive and candid, maintaining sympathy even as her occasional hypocrisy provokes outrage. Middle school drama, including concerns regarding the legitimacy of its power, is tenderly treated, and the connections between characters—family, friends, classmates, and teachers—feel refreshingly genuine. The novel adheres to a white default, with some ethnic diversity among the supporting cast.
McDunn's tale of growing beyond a toxic childhood friendship will ring painfully true for many a reader. (Fiction. 8-12)