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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ten Little Caterpillars, written by Bill Martin Jr and illustrated by Lois Ehlert. Beach Lane, Simon & Schuster. 2011. $19.99 ages 3 and up

"The ninth little caterpillar
fell into the sea.

The tenth little caterpillar
scaled an apple tree...."

This book was first published in 1967 and Lois Ehlert's gorgeous, boldly bright and beautiful collages did not then grace its pages. So here we are, in 2011, able to indulge ourselves in the lilting rhymes of a beloved author while feasting on Ms Ehlert's signature style and brilliant colors.

The caterpillars are moving, and chomping, as they are wont to do. Clearly, you can see all ten of them when you focus on the cover art. Each is different and represents what they will become by the end of the book! Some may seem familiar to young readers. If not, they are sure to learn about them by the time the sharing has ended. Science and art...a great celebration for all!

There is counting to be done, rhythmic language to enjoy and some new learning to digest.  Bill Martin Jr tells ten little stories here...each adventurous, and beautifully detailed in the artwork. Those illustrations are labelled with pertinent information, and provide an opportunity for early readers to acquire relevant sight words. Each caterpillar has its own distinct markings and favored food. It doesn't end with those stories...oh, no!
Lois Ehlert goes on to create an illustrated glossary of each of these critters, providing its known name, one of the foods it eats and the appearance it will have as an adult.  Astute and observant children will notice that only one achieves maturity in the texted pages, that one finds itself trapped in a jar (who hasn't tried that?) and that a few might even become lunch for a predator. It's not an easy life for a caterpillar! Which brings us to the question...who are a caterpillar's enemies? I love books that lead to wanting to know more.

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