Caterpillar Dreams is a picture book by the classic children’s author/illustrator team of Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross.
This is a beautiful, lyrical book about two caterpillars, born at the same time, who know they are sisters, and that when they turn into butterflies, they will dance together in the warmth of the sunshine.
The book takes us through the two caterpillars’ daydreams of how life will be, and how their life cycle takes them into their pupation. We wait through the dreary months of winter to find out what their transformation will be like. When it happens, one butterfly does indeed become a butterfly, but she cannot find her sister.
Eventually she discovers that her sister has turned into a moth.
While the caterpillar was alone, and waiting to find out about her sister I admit to a sense of tension when I was reading it to my son, waiting for something terrible to happen, but actually it is rather lovely. The two friends meet each other as the dawn breaks and it is neither day nor night, and each is as beautiful and necessary to the world as the other.
The story is entwined with a picture story of two children, and we are meant to draw the moral that two siblings/children can be equally important and just as relevant to the world, despite their differences.
Tony Ross’s usual humour is not present in these illustrations, but his hazy, crayon drawings work really well for this poetic, lyrical, lovely book.
It would be lovely to share with children, both boys and girls from the ages of four to six. It would make a nice book to use in schools on a topic about ourselves, or how we grow, or indeed, rather tenuously about butterflies.