Becoming Charley

Knopf. May 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593429044.
PreS-Gr 2–This charming work tells the story of Charley, a caterpillar who looks to the skies as his friends keep their heads down to eat, exactly as they were taught. The young caterpillars spend their days learning the way of the butterfly; encouraged by the elders to “think black, think orange,” and “eat your milkweed.” Charley struggles to concentrate on the stern, repetitive expectations as the warm sun beckons him to discover the beauty that surrounds him in the wildflowers, mountains, and the turquoise sea. When the time comes for Charley to begin his metamorphosis, he fears failure, until he hears the song of a bluebird and channels the peaceful warmth of the sun and the calming twinkle of the stars. When Charley emerges, he has become everything he has ever loved. Readers will surely be drawn to the bright illustrations that evoke both the carefree mood of Charley and the rigidity of the elder butterflies. The variety of sizes and typefaces of text add interest to the story, while the pacing is compelling.
VERDICT The underlying message, that it is okay to stray from what is expected, will delight young and old readers alike.

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