4-7 books

WEEKLY ‘WHAT’S ON THE SHELF?’ A BOOK REVIEW OF CATERPILLAR BUTTERFLY by Vivian French and illustrated by Charlotte Voake

‘But where’s the caterpillar gone?’ I asked.

Did you know that this week is national insect week? I know that insects are not for everyone (although they are much loved in our house!), but the true-life story of transformation from caterpillar to butterfly never fails to fascinate.

‘Caterpillar Butterfly’ is part of the Walker Books Nature Storybooks collection, which all cleverly combine narrative and facts, enabling young children to begin to become familiar with the genre of non-fiction. This book has been on our bookshelf for a while now and has been returned to time and time again, its many layers revealing something new upon each re-reading.

Written largely in first person narrative, the story is Vivian French’s own as, ‘one summer, when she was small, her and her grandfather watched a family of tiny caterpillar eggs turn, stage by amazing stage, into beautiful butterflies!’. Inter-dispersed with the main text, snippets of facts are presented alongside realistic illustrations that resemble a nature diary. The main tale is charming and is as much about the relationship between the little girl and her grandfather, as he patiently teaches her about the elusive butterflies that she seeks at the beginning. We then watch as guides her through the various stages of transformation.

Complementing both the story and pockets of information perfectly, the detailed illustrations make the transformation process familiar to the children without being overly scientific. The gentle and muted colours set the tone for the entirety of the book.

The final pages give a useful index for finding out specific information about both caterpillars and butterflies and is a great starting point to teach children about navigating their way around non-fiction books. The narrative and facts are written in a different font to make it clear and allow for discussion about each text type.

We have used this book to identify butterflies that we’ve seen while out and about. My daughter asking me to take photographs of every butterfly that we see (not an easy task – they flutter away very quickly!) so that we can compare them to the pictures in the book.

This book obviously lends itself to a ton of caterpillar and butterfly themed activities. One of our ultimate favourites has to be bringing up some baby caterpillars of our own, and watching them transform into beautiful Painted Ladies. If you fancy doing this for yourself then I would highly recommend purchasing a butterfly kit from www.insectlore.co.uk. Your caterpillars get sent in the post with full instructions on how to prepare for the miraculous metamorphosis.

Has anyone else done this?

I’d love to hear about any caterpillar or butterfly activities that your little ones have got up too!

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