Animals' Beauty Contest
forest was buzzing with excitement. The annual beauty contest
was soon to begin. The cardinal had preened his red feathers
until they sparkled in the sun. He was sure that he would
be the winner this year.
''All very well if you like red," sniffed the bluebird. He
spread his wings and fanned out his tail.
A squirrel chattered in a nearby tree. "Feathers, indeed!"
She reached around to comb out her fluffy tail for the hundredth
time that day.
Down on the ground, a dull green caterpillar heard all the
buzzing and twittering. "A beauty contest!" she thought. "Oh,
how I would love to win!" She crawled along the ground on
her short, stubby legs, and then humped quickly up the stem
of a plant.
Dreamily she swayed the front half of her body back and forth,
away from the green stalk of the plant.
The cardinal spotted the movement down below and swooped down
to catch himself a meal. "Don't eat me!" shrieked the caterpillar,
ducking under a leaf. "I'm going to enter the animals' beauty
in a beauty contest?" chirped the cardinal. He laughed so
hard he turned a somersault in the air. "What would you want
to enter the beauty contest for? You're not a bit beautiful."
And he was still laughing as he flew away.
am beautiful, I am," the caterpillar called after him. "Don't
you think I'm beautiful?" she asked the squirrel, who was
scampering by with a nut in her mouth.
is what's beautiful," said the squirrel. "You haven't a chance
in the contest. Just look at my fine tail." And she swished
her tail back and forth, so hard that she knocked the caterpillar
right off the plant.
moaned the caterpillar. "Nobody thinks I'm beautiful. What
am I going to do?" She nibbled at a leaf that had broken off
the plant when the squirrel knocked her down. And because
she couldn't think of anything better to do, she kept on eating.
She finished the leaf, and then she crawled up one plant and
down another, eating away. She crunched up one leaf after
another. Her plump body got fatter and fatter. Soon her skin
was stretched out tight like a balloon. If she ate one more
leaf, she would burst.
And … she did burst! Her skin split right down the middle
and opened up just like a zipper. There was a new skin underneath.
It was soft and shining. It was pale at first, but soon it
darkened to a bright green with black and white and orange
The caterpillar sighed with pleasure. "Now I really am beautiful!"
And off she crawled to the clearing in the forest where the
beauty contest was just starting.
wave of chirping and twittering and chattering swept through
the animals of the audience when the spotted caterpillar appeared.
The caterpillar raised her head. Were they cheering? No, they
were -- they were laughing at her!
I'm beautiful!" she cried.
chattered the squirrel.
twittered the bluebird.
you?" hooted the wise old owl, who was judging the contest.
"You look like a clown."
Sadly the little caterpillar crawled away, deep into the forest.
She did not even care who would win the beauty contest. "There
is nothing in the world for me," she thought. "I wish I were
She scooped out a little hole in the ground and curled up
in it. She lay there, without moving, and a hard shell formed
around her body. She seemed to be dead indeed. Months went
by. Dead leaves covered the caterpillar's body, and then the
winter snows covered them with a blanket of white.
The warm spring sun melted the snows and softened the hard
ground. Winds blew the covering of dead leaves away. Down
in the hollow in the ground, the hard little shell stirred,
and then cracked open. But where was the spotted caterpillar?
The creature who wriggled out had large wings, which soon
grew bright and shining in the warmth of the sun. She spread
her wings and fluttered up into the air.
The animals that saw her flutter by caught their breaths and
whispered, "Oh, what a beautiful butterfly!" Even the birds
were jealous of her sparkling wings.
The owl, wakened from his nap, opened one eye and then the
other. Whoo," he called. "I know who will win the beauty contest
2013 The Silversteins