My grandchildren recently introduced me to this most delightful book by Ross Burach. The story is about how a caterpillar discovers that it will “metamorphosize” into a butterfly. Each page is delightfully written and illustrated and will entertain children of any age.
The Impatient Caterpillar is wondering why all the caterpillars are climbing up the tree. His friend tells him that they are going up to metamorphosize, but Impatient Caterpillar doesn’t know what that means. “Meta-WHAT-now?” he asks. His friend explains they are turning into butterflies. Impatient Caterpillar had no idea he could do that! He cannot wait to become a butterfly.
Hanging upside down at the top of the tree, Impatient Caterpillar wants to know what comes next. His friend explains that they now need to build a chrysalis, and, in the blink of an eye, he’s completely encased in his chrysalis. Impatient Caterpillar is incredulous. “WHAAAT? How did you DO that? Is it a spin? Or more of a twirl?” Impatient Caterpillar struggles to build his chrysalis, but once he is encased, he wonders what he must do next. His friend replies, “Just be patient and let nature take its course.”
Impatient Caterpillar is full of questions. Mainly, “Am I a butterfly yet?” All the other chrysalises tell them to be quiet because, after all, they are trying to metamorphosize. When Impatient Caterpillar learns that it takes two weeks to turn into a butterfly, he freaks out. “Can I get a comic book?” “What if I need the bathroom?” “Anyone want to play a game?“. His fellow caterpillars all tell him to be patient and let nature take its course, but the waiting is just so hard. Looking at the calendar, he realizes that it’s still only day one and decides that he is going to break free.
He bursts out of his chrysalis and is convinced that he is a butterfly. Unfortunately, he is now only a rather dilapidated and awkward-looking caterpillar. He jumps off of the branch to fly and splats to the ground. He decides to try to metamorphosize again.
Finally the Impatient Caterpillar seems to be getting the hang of it. He practices deep breathing and speaks positively to himself until on Day 7 he finally finds his inner chill.
At the end of the week…he emerges as a beautiful butterfly! He professes a new appreciation for patience. But…wait!…where is everybody going? His friend tells him they’re migrating. “Right. Right.,” this newly patient butterfly says. He takes off, ready for the long flight.
Just one question: “Are we there yet?”
Besides being funny, it can lead to learning more factual information about caterpillars and butterflies, other animals that undergo metamorphosis (like tadpoles to frogs), and/or talking about learning to be patient and coping techniques to help us be patient.