I have not seen very many picture books in the last year that I really liked, and even fewer that I was excited about using in storytime. I loved Stuff of Stars and Dreamers that came out in the fall, but they aren't really storytime books. I did find Misunderstood Shark and its brand new sequel very funny and fully of the dark humor I love, plus interesting facts, but they are better for an older audience than I currently see.
But this week I was excited to finally come across a new picture book that I liked, and could see using with the kids I have now! We all know Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, but now meet another caterpillar:
The VERY Impatient Caterpillar
Written & illustrated by Ross Burach
February 26, 2019
This book is so funny and entertaining, with a theme everyone can relate to, being impatient.
One caterpillar sees all the other caterpillars scurrying up the tree and wants to know what is going on. One responds that they are going to metamorphosize. "Meta-WHAT-now?" he exclaims. At first he can't believe he can really turn into a butterfly, but he follows and does what everyone else does.
However, he finds that waiting to become a butterfly is a slow process, and two weeks seems like forever. He keeps asking if he's a butterfly yet, tries to occupy himself, but he can't stand it.
After emerging early only to find he is most definitely not a butterfly yet, he finally settles down and uses breathing techniques to relax and go to sleep, while mother nature does her thing. He emerges as a beautiful butterfly, and has learned a valuable lesson in patience.
Or has he?
I think older kids and adults will more fully appreciate the humor, but I think it is basic enough that even the younger kids will find it funny as well. I like the short, simple text and the bold, bright illustrations that aren't too busy and are very expressive. The middle seems to go on just a teeny bit too long, so if you have a younger audience, you might want to skip a couple of pages, or some of the dialog. The text is all dialog in the form of speech bubbles, and fans of Mo Willem's Pigeon and Elephant & Piggie books are sure to like this one!
I do love that it uses the correct word, chrysalis rather than cocoon (moths come out of cocoons, not butterflies), and contains the word "metamorphosize" to get in some great vocabulary. Besides being funny, it can lead to learning more factual information about caterpillars and butterflies, other animals that undergo metamorphosis (like tadpoles to frogs), and/or talking about learning to be patient and coping techniques to help us be patient.
I really liked this one and can't wait to use it in a "Bug" or "Butterfly" themed storytime soon, and I think I'll have to give his Truck Full of Ducks another look!