cover image Caterpillar Summer

Caterpillar Summer

Gillian McDunn. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-68119-743-2

Intensely responsible Cat, 11, looks after her seven-year old brother, Chicken, whose unique stressors and focused intensity require patience and attention, particularly since the death of their father. When the family’s summer plans unexpectedly fall through, the biracial siblings are sent to stay with their estranged maternal grandparents, Macon and Lily, on an island off the North Carolina coast, while their mother—who writes children’s books loosely based on her children’s lives—works in Georgia. Cat’s curiosity about the troubled history between her mother and Macon brings her insecurities about her often overwhelming role as Chicken’s caretaker to the fore, leading to a summer of difficult conversations and necessary change in family dynamics. Cat’s developing relationship with her grandparents, shifting role in Chicken’s life, and growth toward a more honest relationship with her mother are deeply moving in their realism, as are Cat’s burgeoning self-awareness and self-advocacy. Set against a cushioning backdrop of fishing, beach trips, and ice cream, McDunn’s poignant, gratifying debut about friendship and family encourages both empathy and hope. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Marietta B. Zacker, Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency. (Apr.) [/em]