The Caterpillar That was Afraid of the Cocoon

by Latoya Wakefield

Irie and Grandma by Kavion Robinson
Once upon a time there was a caterpillar named ‘Irie’. Irie loved his name, although he did not know why it had been given to him. One starry night, he asked his grandma.

 “Good evening, Grandma, why was I named Irie?” he asked.

Grandma smiled and told him, “Your mother gave you that name because instead of crying when you were born, you laughed. Irie means that everything is all right. When you laughed, we knew you were alright.”

And mon, did Irie love to laugh!

However, there was one thing that didn’t make Irie happy. The idea of going into a cocoon. His older cousins all went into cocoons so that they could become butterflies, but Irie was afraid of being in that silky stuff all by himself.

One day, he asked his mother, “Mom, can I just stay a caterpillar forever?”
But his mother replied, “Irie, there are some things that are inevitable in life.”

“In-every-table?” he repeated, confused.

She laughed.

“Yes, my Sunshine. That means that there some things in life you have to do.”

“Ok,” he said.

But the more cocoons he saw, the more afraid he got.

One day, as he was crawling across the warm soil, someone called his name from above.

“Irie, Irie!”

That voice sounds so familiar, Irie thought. He looked above and saw a butterfly, breath-taking and beautiful in the sun’s glory. She was coming towards him.

“It’s me, your cousin Shuggie,” the butterfly said. “It feels so great to finally be up here in the sky. Now I can go anywhere I want to.”

“That’s great,” said Irie. “You look great, Cousin Shuggie.”

“I feel great. Hurry up and join us. You should have been in the cocoon by now!”

“Do I really have to go in the cocoon, before I can be with you guys?” Irie whispered.

But Cousin Shuggie no longer heard him. She had already flown away. Irie watched her soar above him, wondering if he would ever be able to fly with the butterflies.  

At home, his mother and grandparents were concerned about his development.

“He seems afraid of his path,” Grandma said.

“He is, mom. I’m worried,” his mother said. “If he doesn’t go into the cocoon soon, he could...” She dropped her head, too afraid to even speak the words. They gave her a
big hug.

“Don’t worry daughter. Give him time, he’ll find his way,” Grandpa said.

“Yes, everything will be alright,” Grandma said.

Meanwhile, Irie had gone to visit his cousin Junior. His cousin was almost fully emerged into the cocoon.
“Junior, not you, too!” Irie exclaimed.

“It is our destiny, Irie,” Junior could barely talk.

“I don’t want you to go,” Irie sniffed.

“Don’t worry, it will be okay. The sun will shine in a few days. It always does,” Junior smiled and his head disappeared into the cocoon.

Irie the Caterpillar by Kavion Robinson
“No, nooo!” Irie said. He stayed there for a while and watched Junior. That was his last cousin. Now he was gone. Irie was all alone.

The next morning, Irie arrived home to find all the butterflies in a gathering.

“Where were you?” his mother shouted while flying towards him as fast as she could.

“I was with Junior, he’s gone.”

“Oh Irie, he’ll be okay,” his mother hugged him tight.

“I’m so afraid, mum” Irie said softly.

 “We’re all here for you, Irie,” his mother answered.

“Yes, Irie, we’ll be here day and night while you’re in that cocoon,” Grandma confirmed.

“You might be in by yourself but you’re never alone,” said Grandpa.

“When you’ve transformed, just imagine the Bougainvilleas we can visit on the North Coast,” Cousin
Shuggie said.

“And Junior will be here with us too, Grandma added.

“I know you’re scared of being by yourself in the cocoon, my sunshine, but it’s only temporary... It’s only for a little while. And when you come out, you’ll get to soar with us,” his mother said.

“We’ll always be here for you, Irie,” his Grandma said.

Irie felt it, the time was right.

“I’m ready, mom,” he said with a big bright smile. “I can do it, I’m still afraid of being there all by myself, but as long as I have you all, everything will be alright.”

His cocoon was made and Irie went in bravely.

For days and nights, his family watched and waited. Then finally, the cocoon broke. And a few seconds later, Irie emerged, laughing as he always did. He was the most beautiful butterfly.

“There’s that laugh again,” Grandpa said. “The sweetest sound that ever befell our ears.”

The whole family was there waiting for Irie as he came out of the cocoon, just as they had promised. Junior, himself now a butterfly, was there too. And they all had a feast.

“After the dark times, everything little thing always gonna be alright,” Grandma said, and so they started singing in the sunshine.


About the Author

Latoya Wakefield has been pouring her thoughts and feelings onto paper since she was a fourth grade student at Seaward Primary Junior High. In high school, her articles were published in the youth newspaper, Teen Herald. Since then, she has completed several short stories, articles and poems. She currently works in the hospitality industry but writing is her forever love; she continues to write avidly in her spare time. ‘The Caterpillar That was Afraid of the Cocoon’ will be her first published children’s book. She hopes to produce many more works in this genre and aims to be a successful novelist in the near future. She lives in Jamaica.

About the Illustrator

Kavion Robinson is a fine art painter and illustrator based in Trenton, New Jersey. He received his Bachelors in Fine Arts in 2009 from the University of The Arts in Philadelphia, PA. He is currently working as a freelance illustrator and portrait painter. Kavion has dedicated his artistic career to depicting life’s beauties and struggles in a creative, inspirational and enlightening manner. As a child growing up in Westmoreland, Jamaica, he saw the struggles involved in daily living, along with the beauty. Life to Kavion is a beautiful struggle and his artwork depicts that beauty. His work can be viewed on his portfolio site:

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About Anansesem

Anansesem is an online magazine of Caribbean children's and young adult literature by adults and children. We strive to bring you the best in news, reviews and creative content from the world of Caribbean children's publishing.
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  1. Such a lovely story. Perfect Motivation for Children!!!

  2. Carol SammyJune 04, 2013

    A little tale with a deeper meaning that makes it delightful.

  3. Thank you, Ms. Shaw and Ms. Sammy:-)

  4. AnonymousJune 17, 2013

    Well done Elle.

  5. AnonymousJuly 23, 2013

    Thank you, Latoya and Kavion! I've printed the story and given it to the children in the literacy program that I run in St. James. They are still working on finding their own voices, and I think this story will inspire them in so many ways. Plus, there is much in there to compare with "The Hungry Caterpillar" and "Irie Morning", two books they have already read.

  6. Thank you, Anonymous and Myalweed.@Myalweed,I would love to hear the feedback from the children in the program. I'm working on several other books that might be of interest to them too. I've read great reviews about "Irie Morning"; never heard of "The Hungry Caterpillar". I'm going to put these on my 'to read' list. Tell the children 'hi' for me.

  7. Great story. Simple yet inspiring.



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