Title: Caterpillar Dreams
Author/Illustrator: Clive McFarland
Age Group: 2-5
Synopsis: “If you don’t chase your dreams, they always get away,” says Caterpillar’s friend Toad. Caterpillar won’t let his dreams of adventure get away.
Maybe this is too soon but I’m already hankering for spring. We’ve gotten one big snow and that’s been it. As of now I’m feeling that winter is just cloudy and rainy, and I’m done with it. If it’s cold and there’s precipitation than that precipitation better be snow. But it hasn’t been this year; that might be why Caterpillar Dreams jumped out at me. Butterflies, spring, hope. The story isn’t breaking any barriers in plot at all but it definitely present a scrappy hero and that will endear almost any story to me. Plus Clive McFarland does a fabulous job with the illustrations.
Henri the caterpillar is a pretty positive little fellow but he dreams of flying away from his garden home and having an amazing, incredible, impossible-seeming adventure. Most of his friends think he’s crazy but Toad encourages him. So Henri goes in search of someone who can help him scale the garden wall. Bird agrees to take him over the wall but no further. Henri is then confronted by another obstacle and finds help to overcome that one and the next and the next. He’s getting closer and closer to his goal through smaller steps. However, as Henri finally reaches where he believes his adventure will begin, an urge to build a cocoon overwhelms him. As he struggles against sleep Henri can’t but help thinking that his dream has gotten away. But as he awakens on a hot air balloon, high above the earth he realizes that adventure has found him. With his new found freedom Henri immediately heads home, certain there can be no place better.
McFarland has a lovely style that seems reminiscent of Leo Lionni but with more vibrant colors, cuter, and more expressive. The simplicity of the illustrations makes them easily accessible for little readers but the underlying complexity reveals the cleverness that went into creating them. They’re clean and engaging with great textures that add another dimension as well. Plus they’re just too darn cute.
Though the way Henri changes on his journey isn’t much of a surprise to any adults reading the story and even younger readers the final ending with Henri returning home is a great message. Though we go into the wide wide world it’s important not to forget where we come from. I also loved how Henri’s adventure was littered with steps, as much of life is. There’s very few goals we accomplish without first finding the stepping stones it takes to get there. Bug loved too the caterpillar activity we did after reading this book and helping his caterpillar too follow Henri on this journey.
- See if your little one can guess how Henri will overcome every obstacle. Brainstorm before reading ahead and seeing what he does.
I need more!
Clive McFarland has a few books he’s written/illustrated including Fox in the Wild and A Bed for Bear. He’s also the illustrator of One Leaf, Two Leaves. Check out more about him and his work at: http://clivemcfarland.com/