The Little Green Beetle

Most children’s first stories are about animals. Animals and nature hold a special place in children’s imagination and affections, and often continue to do so long after they’ve grown up. Animals amaze, comfort, delight, inspire, amuse, and best of all, offer countless ideas for stories.

Here is one of the very first animal stories that I made up for my own sons when they were very young.

Once there was a little beetle walking through a field. There were two things about this beetle that made him quite extraordinary. First, he was one determined, tough little beetle. One could easily see this by the way he walked confidently across the field. Chest out, one leg after the other, afraid of no creature or thing. He looked more like a tough old bulldog than some puny insect.

The second extraordinary thing about this beetle was his color. He was lime green, covered in orange spots. Not just any green, but neon lime green. The kind of green that glows in the dark. In fact, even though this beetle was very tiny and was walking in a large field, another animal could easily spot him a mile away. Especially a predator. A predator is an animal that eats other animals for food.

As the beetle was marching along, a very hungry crow dropped from the sky and landed next to him.

Crow said, “And what do we have here?”

The beetle said nothing. He didn’t even look at the crow, but stared intently ahead in the direction he was going.

“Too scared to speak, huh?” said Crow.

No reply from the beetle.

The crow began to walk alongside the beetle, who was still trudging ahead. “That’s some green jacket you’re sporting! I spotted you miles away. If I were you, I might want to wear something a little less noticeable.”

“Really?” said Beetle, speaking up for the first time.

“Really,” Crow said. “Just seeing that juicy green color made my mouth water. In fact, I dropped down to see if you tasted as good as you look.”

“I wouldn’t eat me if I were you,” Beetle said.

“Why not?” asked Crow.

“Well,” said Beetle, “have you ever seen a beetle with such a bright green shell before?”

“No.”

“And have you ever seen a beetle with such bright orange spots before?”

“No.”

“That’s because I’m poisonous,” said Beetle.

“What?” Crow looked confused.

“There is poison in my body and shell,” explained Beetle. “The poison gives me bright colors and unusual markings to warn predators to stay away.”

“Wait a second,” said Crow. “You’re bluffing so I won’t eat you.”

“If you’re so sure,” said Beetle, “then go ahead and eat me.”

Crow hesitated. He muttered to himself. “I know this little beetle is bluffing, and he looks mighty tasty. But if I’m wrong and I eat this little bug, I could be one dead bird.”

At last, Crow sighed. “You’re too puny a snack to risk getting poisoned,” he said. ”Especially when there are so many bigger, more delicious, and less mouthy bugs in the woods. So long, little beetle,” called Crow, as he lifted his wings and took off toward the surrounding forest.

The little green beetle said not a word in reply, but kept on walking. After a few moments, he paused and laughed aloud. “They fall for that one every time!”