The Little Golden Butterfly
(by Jo Anzalone 1966...a story for children)
Three hundred years ago, in the land where trees never die, but grow and grow 'til they
become so tall that the stars have to move from their way...lived a butterfly. It was the only
butterfly that had ever lived in this land of giant trees. Everything in the land was dark.
The trees spread their huge branches over the earth and hid all light from the sun. No grass
or bushes grew on the ground as no sun ever shone there to make them grow. No birds sang
among the branches. It was much too dark and lonely, so they had all flown to the land of
brilliant sunlight. No deer or fox or bear or animals of any kind lived in this land of giant
trees. There were only the trees.....big, straight, dark trees that never moved, never felt a
breeze. They stood there year after year after year...all in quietness...all in darkness.
It was in this giant forest that the butterfly lived. She had never seen sunshine, never had
a warm breeze lift under her wings, or heard birds sing, or ever even seen another thing that
was alive...except for the giant trees. And so, in and out, through the dark brown branches of
the trees, the lonely butterfly flew all her life...all alone. She had never known a life other
than this, but she felt somehow, somewhere deep inside herself that something was missing.
She wanted something...she didn't know what she wanted...but she wanted...something!!!
Day after day she flew on alone in the darkness...never a sound, never a movement other
than the gentle flutter of her own wings. On and on in the silence. One day, when she was so
sad she thought she could not bear the loneliness anymore, she saw something far ahead
through the trees. It was very dim and very, very far away. She had no idea what it was
because she had never seen anything in her whole life except the dark bottom of the forest.
She flew as fast as she could...faster and faster! What was it? What could it be? She was
in such a hurry she flew straight into a dark branch she couldn't see. It tore one of her wings
and she fell to the ground. She sat there all alone in the middle of the deep black forest...a
little butterfly with a torn wing. She tried to fly...she couldn't. She tried again but couldn't
move her wing. The forest seemed darker than ever. The trees frightened her. She knew she
would die in a little while and no one would ever know...or ever care. Her eyes filled with
tears and one big teardrop ran down her cheek and dropped on the floor of the forest. No
drop of water had ever come through the thick leaves before. The ground under the trees had
never felt rain or had sunlight shine upon it. Now, for the first time, water touched it...and it
was the teardrop of the dying butterfly.
As soon as the teardrop fell upon the earth, the little spot it dampened turned bright green.
A little leaf sprout came through the hard earth and began to grow...one inch, two inches, five,
six, seven. A bud formed on the end, but it was so dark in the forest the butterfly could not see
it at all.
Suddenly the air was filled with the sound of singing. It was like a great choir of hundreds
of beautiful bird voices. High up, far above the head of the butterfly, the leaves of a giant tree
began to move and spread apart. A sunbeam, brighter than any sunbeam had ever been, entered
the forest through the opening and in a golden sparkle of blazing sun, shone in a circle around
the little green sprout. As soon as the sunbeam touched the sprout, the bud burst open into a
The butterfly watched, but did not understand what she saw. She only knew that it was no
longer dark, that she was no longer alone, and that her wing no longer hurt. The air was full
of sunlight and bird song and there was a lovely flower in front of her...the first flower the
little butterfly had ever seen. She tried to fly once more. She wasn't sure she could fly, but the
rose was so beautiful she had to try to go to it. Spreading her wings, she glided quietly and
gently into the air. She settled atop the rose and just sat there, feeling the sunlight all over her
It had always been so dark that she had never seen herself before. Now, for the first time,
she sat upon her first flower in her first sunbeam. Her wings stretched out on either side and
she looked and saw they were not dark brown as she had always thought. She was not brown!
She was a brilliant golden color! She lifted her head and looked up the sunbeam, through the
opening in the leaves to where she could hear the birds singing. It seemed as though the breeze
lifted her up and up 'til she, too, floated through the leaves and into the heavens. She floated
on and on; the birds sang more wonderfully than ever; the blue sky was more blue; and a
rainbow curved into the distance. Quickly the rainbow broke apart into a thousand thousand
pieces, and each piece was a butterfly which came and flew around the little golden one. She
followed them until they came to a land of pink and yellow roses. This was the homeland of
the butterflies, and here the little golden butterfly found again her special big rose and sat
upon it, listening to the birds sing in the sunshine and watching the other butterflies playing in
the blue sky.
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