The Girl Who Loved Caterpillars

by Jean Merrill and Floyd Cooper

An adaptation of a 12th-century Japanese story left unfinished by its anonymous author... read more

An adaptation of a 12th-century Japanese story left unfinished by its anonymous author has a startlingly modern ring. As the daughter of a nobleman in the Emperor's court, Izumi is expected to conform to standards of behavior and beauty which will assure her a place as a lady-in-waiting or as the wife of a nobleman. But Izumi has no interest in fashion or femininity; instead she is fascinated with worms, toads, insects and, most especially, caterpillars. While other nobles find Izumi disgusting and ridiculous, "scruffy-looking boys from families of low standing" find her admirable. The boys (to whom Izumi assigns nicknames such as Worm Boy and Mantis Man) line up to present her with gifts -- unusual insects or caterpillars they have found. And one day a nobleman overhears Izumi talking to a caterpillar as he is passing by... but what, if anything, developed from their chance meeting has been lost to history. Floyd Cooper's lush oil paintings capture the strength of character and individuality of a girl living 800 years ago who might have been much more comfortable growing up in the late 20th century. (Ages 6-11)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1992

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