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Caterpillar Summer

304p. Bloomsbury. Apr. 2019. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781681197432.
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Gr 3–6—Rising sixth-grader Caterpillar has a lot on her mind. She has a younger brother on the autism spectrum, her father died recently, and her mother's artistic temperament is leaving Cat with a lot of responsibility at a young age. Cat is excited to go to Atlanta for the summer so that she can spend time with her best friend and just enjoy being a kid. All this changes when her best friend has a family emergency that takes him to India. Cat finds herself on a small island in North Carolina with grandparents she's never met and she doesn't know the real reason her mom has kept her away from her grandparents. Over the course of the summer, Cat learns to love her mothers's parents. She also learns to let go of some of her feelings of always needing to be there for her brother by allowing others to help. While Caterpillar and her brother are both biracial, this is not a critical component of the plot. Readers may question whether race was a factor in the degeneration of Cat's mother's relationship with her own parents, but this turns out not to be the case. There are minor references to Caterpillar's struggle with her hair and her white mother's inability to style it effectively. The representation in this case is important from the standpoint of biracial visibility. Though this is not an uncommon family structure, it is seen infrequently in middle grade fiction.
VERDICT A sweet summer story that middle grade readers will appreciate.

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