Becoming Charley by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Loveis Wise

Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Summary:  While the other caterpillars keep their heads down and eat milkweed the way they’re supposed to, Charley likes to look up at the trees and the clouds and the stars.  The caterpillars are taught to focus on the orange and black patterns that will one day make them into monarch butterflies, but Charley often gets distracted by the beautiful things all around him.  He’s excited when it’s time to form his chrysalis but once inside, he’s unsure of what to do.  Orange and black, right?  But Charley can’t help remembering the blues and yellows of the birds and sun.  As summer moves on, the other butterflies start to emerge, but Charley’s chrysalis remains unchanged.  “I’m not surprised,” says one of the older butterflies.  Then, finally, here comes Charley, but instead of black and orange he’s a unique, colorful montage of all the things he has ever loved.  40 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  The beautiful illustrations show the colorful world that Charley loves, and the story celebrates those who don’t always quite fit in or follow the rules.

Cons:  I love the message, but I thought it could have been delivered with a lighter touch, like Kelly DiPucchio did in Gaston, one of my favorite books to read to kids.

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