Rick DeDonato, Pipsie, Nature Detective: The Disappearing Caterpillar (New York: Two Lions, 2015), 34 pp. Illustrated by Tracy Bishop.
A big fan of nature. A good friend. And a mystery. Sounds like the recipe for a fun story! And it is. Pipsie is a young naturalist who, with her little friend Alfred the turtle, finds herself in the role of a nature detective. Soon after meeting a young caterpillar, Frannie goes missing. Decked out in her outdoor boots and backpack, with a magnifying glass in hand, Pipsie searches for clues around her home and backyard to Frannie’s whereabouts. Her and Alfred even seek out information about one clue at their local zoo’s insect garden, and gain another piece of advice from an educator there. Will Pipsie and Alfred solve the mystery of the disappearing caterpillar?
I love this book, and my young daughter has asked me to read it to her several times. It’s wonderful to see a young female figure engaged in exploring in nature. She’s got the gear, and in her bedroom you can see a butterfly net, a mushroom chair, nature-themed bedding, and a bookshelf full of nature guides. In her treehouse, her nature collections, plants, and nature art. A sign inside her treehouse says “Pipsie, Nature Detective,” perhaps indicating more Pipsie books in the future. I hope so.
At the end of the story, DeDonato provides some fun facts about caterpillars and butterflies. And Bishop’s illustrations are welcoming and colorful, just like nature. I highly recommend Pipsie, Nature Detective for parents of young elementary-aged children or their teachers. This book is also perfect for nature-based storytimes at nature centers or library programs. The more books that show kids outdoors and connecting with nature, the better!