Margaret Davis Dixon has written a warm and amusing, if rather short, rhyming read-aloud picture book for young children. The story was inspired by the author’s memories of her father, an avid fisherman.
In this sweet and very simple picture book, Dixon explains why caterpillars aren’t good bait for catfish: they don’t squirm, the fish aren’t fooled and, thus, don’t bite. More importantly, perhaps, caterpillars are destined to turn into butterflies — not to tempt fish into chomping on a hook. “Don’t go fishing with a caterpillar,/ The fish won’t even bitre!/” writes Dixon. “So there you’d be sitting under a tree,/ Fishing all day and all night.”
Angela Dela Pena’s illustrations are imaginative and sprinkled with visual humor and detail – from the jolly frogs on lily pads to the fisherman’s whiskers and the happy, curious catfish who stare at the poor hooked caterpillars with benign disinterest. One would love to see some lighter colors added to the palette of the generally dark illustrations, as well as additional visual information about the riverbank ecosystem and the other creatures who call it home. Enhanced color and imaginative detail would add interest and depth to this simple text, which consists of a mere 5 stanzas — with some lines repeated.
One can imagine a classroom of giggling preschoolers delighting in the rhyme and silliness of this story. But the text is so short, children may be left begging for more. The addition of even two stanzas of rhyming story would make this book feel more substantive and compelling.