The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Jenny Higgins and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

The Story of Chester: The Monarch Caterpillar/Larva (LifeCycle of the Butterfly) Book and DVD Review by Karen Waide

Susie Vanderlip
Intuitive Wisdom Publications
1 (800) 707-1977 or (714) 997-2158
3024 E. Chapman Ave #112
Orange, CA 92869

This summer, we spent several weeks studying butterflies. I was thrilled when I found out we were going to get a chance to supplement our learning with this adorable story about the life of a caterpillar called, The Story of Chester: The Monarch Caterpillar/Larva.  We received both the book and the DVD.

The author, Susie Vanderlip, is a Monarch Butterfly Citizen Scientist and has raised hundreds of monarch butterflies. Amazingly enough, when she first met Chester, she didn't know anything about monarch butterflies. However, as she watched Chester and his friends while recuperating from surgery, she got to know them very well. She spent her time taking photographs and recording video footage, and she watched Chester grow from a teeny tiny caterpillar the size of a grain of rice, to an adult butterfly. During this time she was able to watch Chester interact with other caterpillars, some of which were his brothers and sisters.

These images found their way into her book, and she brought the story to life with a sweet story that also included factual information about monarch butterflies. You can feel the sense of amazement and wonder as you read the book. Likewise, the video footage has been compiled into a ten-minute long DVD where Mrs. Vanderlip narrates the story with such emotion, you really get drawn into the story.

Never before have we read a story about a real caterpillar where the caterpillar has a personality. Usually, non-fiction butterfly books just share the facts of the life cycle, and fiction books might be unrealistic; not The Story of Chester. We were able to join in with his adventures and struggles. We learned more about monarch butterflies than we have known before. I think the part that amazed me most was watching and reading about caterpillars communicating with and fighting each other.

I love how we get to cheer Chester on throughout the book and the DVD, with such lines as, “Eat, Chester, Eat,” and, “Run, Chester, Run.” We feel for him when we hear, “Chester is confused,” or read “Poor Chester!” Then there are times when the author/narrator is speaking for Chester with such lines as, “Where am I? Oh my gosh, WHERE AM I???”

The 29 page book is full of detailed photographs of Chester and other caterpillars. There are pictures of all the stages of the life cycle, from egg, to newly hatched larva and growing larva, all the way through the “J” stage (where it hangs like the letter “J”), chrysalis, and emerging as a butterfly. The ten minute long DVD tells the story with almost the same words as the book. There are some paragraphs that have been reordered and words that have been changed, but in essence it is the same story. I know that ever since we watched the movie, I hear Mrs. Vanderlip's voice in my head as I read the story. Which I think is sort of cool as she tells the story with such feeling.

The book and the DVD can both stand alone, but they make a lovely set to share with young children (ages 3-9). The book sells for $13.99 and the DVD costs $10. I just wish they would sell as a set for a bit of a discount.

This is definitely a product I can highly recommend. The children all loved it, from my four year old to my nine year old. They thought Chester was so cute. One of my daughters thought it was neat how they turned some caterpillars into a neat story. Now, my husband didn't really care for having words appear on screen occasionally; however, my daughter thought that part was really cool. This is a wonderful story for learning about monarch butterflies. And what's more, it meets the STEM Life Science curriculum requirements.

- Product review by Karen Waide, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2016