Clara Caterpillar, by Pamela Duncan Edwards, is a delightful book that follows the life cycle of a butterfly from egg to adult. The story line is new but Edwards’ treatment makes it special. Clara is slow to emerge from her egg and immediately endears herself by telling us that she in comfortable in her egg. But, of course, she does emerge and immediately endures criticism for a catty caterpillar named Catisha but is defended by the gallant caterpillar Cornelius who becomes her friend and companion. The time comes for making a chrysalis and Catisha, of course, has nothing but complaints while Clara is cozy. The day when the butterflies emerge from their chrysalis reveals that Clara is a modest cream color while Catisha is copper colored and spectacular. A crow quickly spies Catisha and Clara proves that modest cream is better than spectacular copper.
The story is told with lots of alliteration using the letter C, which adds to the fun and flow of the story. At one point we read that “Clara, the cream-colored butterfly, lay camouflaged behind a curtain of cream-colored camellias.” Delicious! The large, bold illustrations cover two pages and are in earthy shades of green to brown with accents of red. They are playful and complement the text in tone as well as meaning. My favorite is the one showing Catisha complaining about life in her chrysalis with comments like “I’m cramped!, “I’m crushed..”, “I’m coiled like corkscrew!”, It’s making me Cranky!”, “I can’t cope!” Clara Caterpiller is a wonderful read for children preschool to first grade.
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