Caterpillar Portraits by rising star Joyce Jodie Kim covers a lot of ground in its 99 short pages. Following six year old Joy, a lightly fictionalized version of Kim herself, as she explores the miasmic landscape of Korean-Canadian childhood, this novella touches on themes of love, family, wonder, change, faith, and the transcendent beauty hidden within the every day with Kim’s trademark whimsical style. Adults and children alike will find themselves in this poignant reflection on childhood; I was personally awed by the breathlessly genuine description of Joy and her sister Noel’s cardboard architecture in the chapter, “The Closet,” which effortlessly encompasses the liminal kingdom between the wisdom of age and wonder of childhood. While Kim’s prose, as gilded and floral as the cover which wraps her tale, may be a little too complex for readers around Joy’s age, its passionate imagery will prove a treat for a family who reads together or independent readers age 10 and up. If you liked the dreamy imagination of Bridge to Terebithia, the irresistible joy of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series, or the satisfying experience of getting lost in a world that is both familiar and extraordinary, then Caterpillar Portraits is for you!
- Lord of the Flies