Green with Envy

The Crunching Munching Caterpillar by Sheridan Cain

If you love the theme and ideas of The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, you’ll love this book too.

While I give credit to Carle for first picking up on the idea of the beauty of a caterpillar’s/butterfly’s life cycle, The Crunching Munching Caterpillar gives a little more personality to this particular caterpillar character. Cain also touches on a few emotional themes, important for teaching young children: envy, jealousy and finding your own strengths.

Summary

“Caterpillar longs to be able to fly. He envies Bumblebee his wings, and he wishes he could soar through the air like a bird. But all he can do is crunch and munch his way through a blackberry bush. When Butterfly comes along she smiles a secret smile because she knows something Caterpillar doesn’t!”

This book is best suited for toddlers and pre-school age children.

What I love about this book.

It is difficult not to draw comparisons between The Very Hungry Caterpillar and this book, but I think the intended audiences and theme focus are quite distinct.

I would say that Carle’s book captures a larger audience. In a really simple but beautiful way, Carle takes us through the process of caterpillar-butterfly metamorphosis. This is why it is such a popular and timeless book (must have for your library!).

In this book, Cain seems to focus more on feelings and emotions, using the metamorphosis to illustrate the point. She addresses some of the more unpleasant feelings such as exclusion, jealousy, and being different. However, ultimately, demonstrating that everyone has their own abilities and beauty. She also touches on the idea that eventually everything can come around to your favour in due time.

The language used throughout the book is a bit more complex than that used in The Very Hungry Catepillar. Sentences are longer and overall the book is a bit more word-y. For this reason, it is better suited for older toddlers and pre-school aged children. It also doesn’t quite have the same sing-song flow, so needs a bit of added character when reading.

The illustrations in the book are bright and engaging.

Storytime Tips and Activities

  • Read this story with a slower pace. The flow is not particularly natural. Try give a bit of character to the dialogue of each of the animals/insects.
  • At the end of the story discuss the caterpillar’s feelings – why might it feel this way? How did the caterpillar deal with these feelings?
  • Draw parallels with your child’s experience with similar emotions and the types of strategies that can be used to address the feelings.
  • Reiterate that it’s good to be different and everyone has their own strengths/abilities!
  • Highlight the positives of the story – good things come to those who wait.
  • As well as the emotional side of the story, discuss the life-cycle of a caterpillar-butterfly. If your child has read The Hungry Caterpillar draw the parallels.

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