Pipsie, Nature Detective: The Disappearing Caterpillar
Written by Rick DeDenato; illustrated by Tracy Bishop
Two Lions, 2015, Ages 5-8
Pipsie is a young girl with a pet turtle named Alfred. One morning, Pipsie found a caterpillar on Alfred’s head. The caterpillar’s name was Frannie and the three of them immediately became friends. One day, Frannie was nowhere to be found. Pipsie and Alfred looked everywhere for her so they put on their detective gear and began to hunt for clues. They found a chewed up leaf in the backyard and took it to zoo to find answers. At the insect garden at the zoo, Pipsie and Alfred learned lots about caterpillars like Frannie and even saw a chrysalis. One of the zoo guides helped the two friends and told them to look for one at home and that’s where Frannie will be. After Pipsie and Alfred found the chrysalis, they waited 10 days before Frannie the caterpillar became Frannie the monarch butterfly and the mystery case was finally solved.
DeDonato offers a cute, animated writing style throughout the book. He sometimes puts full words in capital letters to put emphasis on something. For example, Pipsie once says, “Alfred, I think you’re turning into a TIGER.” He also includes a lot of academic content into the story such as the amount of time a caterpillar in in the chrysalis to turn into a butterfly or what kind of plant caterpillars like.
I love Tracy Bishop’s illustrations. They’re cute and soft like nature is. She adds human like characteristics to the turtle and caterpillar as the turtle wears a hat on his head and the caterpillar wears a bow. I feel that this models how humans and animals/insects are more similar than different and should be treated with care. The illustrations are beautiful and play a large visual role in understanding some of the academic content within this book.
This was a great book. I would share this book with students to introduce caterpillars and butterflies in a science unit. This book is also great to inspire children to be nature detectives themselves and explore the world around them. I would recommend this book for five to eight- year-olds to get these youths to observe their environment and the nature outside their door.
Reviewed by Hannah Heifner