Spider wants to cheer up and dazzle his friend Caterpillar using his web of magic tricks. But trick after trick fails to impress the now sleeping caterpillar who has tucked herself inside a tiny shell. Weeks later, Spider goes to visit his friend. Caterpillar asks him to wait as she slowly emerges from her sleep. Abracadabra! She is now a beautiful butterfly—the most magical trick of all!
What’s the matter with Caterpillar? She’s suspended in a kind of hammock, and she looks comfortable but sleepy. “Can you come out?” Spider asks her. “Are you sick?” Caterpillar shakes her head no. Spreads by Yang zoom in on Spider’s cheerful face as he offers a cascade of amusements, one after another, in an effort to cheer his friend. “Abracadabra!” Spider cries: he waves a magic stick and, using filigrees of golden spider silk, makes a leaf into a guitar, a flower into a hat, another leaf into a kite. “Twinkling stars!” he exclaims; they’re yellow maple leaves in a dense sky of glimmering threads. But Caterpillar is asleep. When she eventually wakes up, Caterpillar reveals a trick more magnificent than any of Spider’s. Spreads by Yang get right up close to these small creatures, animating them with bold graphic shapes and childlike features. The two characters provide an unexpected contrast: Caterpillar is quiet until the end, but proves to have been doing something far more transformational than all of Spider’s frenetic activity combined. Ages 3–7. (May)
PreS-Gr 2–It’s impossible to imagine the delight on listeners’ faces when the end of this gorgeous little tale of the magic of caterpillar-becoming-butterfly is revealed. When Spider goes to visit his small friend, Caterpillar, she is hanging in her “house,” visible only as a small, quiet face swaddled in an oblong cocoon. Spider, to entice her out, performs trick after trick, summoning all his powers and adding a resplendent “Abracadabra!” whenever he can, following his spinning of a hat, for example, or guitar playing. His queries lead to dead ends, too. No, she is not sick. No, she is not sad. This loving dilemma—how can we help when a friend is quiet?—will resonate with readers. The reassuring ending, that nothing is wrong and, in fact, something wonderful has happened, will trigger joy. Yang’s illustrations have the soft look of felting in cheerful, mellow hues, and pair well with Li’s simple language. VERDICT Story hours will benefit from the lessons of interrelationships, and the occasional outburst of “Abracadabra!” can’t hurt.