Hope for the Flowers, by Trina Paulus (copyright 1972, in case you're wondering), is one of those books that you read once and it sticks with you and is always great for a reread. I was first introduced to it when I was in high school (back in the early 1990s, folks) on a church retreat. One of the leaders read part of it to us before giving a moving talk about "letting go" to enable change in our lives. A number of years later (post-college and after I was married) I was browsing a local bookstore searching for another title from those retreat years (The Way of the Wolf by Martin Bell) when I stumbled upon Hope for the Flowers. I confess that I sat down right in the middle of the book aisle and read it from cover to cover (thanfully it is a quick read, as the floor isn't always the best place to enjoy a book). I did purchase it (I'm not one of THOSE people who reads a book at the store and walks away - that's what libraries are for!) and have even purchased a few additional copies to share with friends since then.
The cover note summarizes the book fairly well: "a tale - partly about life, partly about revolution, and lots about hope for adults and others (including caterpillars who can read)"
The book chronicles the lives of two caterpillars who are seeking their place in the world and trying to find their life's purpose. They find comfort in one another's companionship, yet struggle to understand if they are missing out on something important by not joining their fellow caterpillars in climbing a caterpillar pillar up to the sky (thinking perhaps the meaning to life is revealed at the top of the heap). Yellow, the girl caterpillar, decides climbing the pillar is not the path she wants to take, but Stripe, the boy caterpillar, can't resist the urge to reach the top and so leaves his friend to test his fortitude.
Stripe quickly learns that his choice was not an easy one. He must face numerous challenges (read it to see what they are!), finds himself wallowing in dispair, and realizes that he misses his dear friend Yellow. At his lowest point, a beautiful yellow butterfly visits him and silently guides him down the pillar to safety. With his newfound knowledge (again, I don't want to spoil things, so I won't tell you what they are!) and help from the kind butterfly, Stripe lets go of his fears and his urges to follow the pack of caterpillars. He finds that following the masses took him away from his life's purpose and that refocusing and looking at his life from another perspective brought him to a place where he could start life anew. This new life is filled with hope and friendship. If you know anything at all about caterpillars, you can probably guess what happens to Stripe at the end . . . but you'll have to read the book to really get a feel for how great his change truly is.
The book is a treasured favorite of mine for these fabulous reasons:
1. It is an illustrated tale that is great for adults and for adults to share with children
2. The illustrations are simple, but lovely - black/white/yellow (and if you know me, I love yellow)
3. It is a story of friendship, forgiveness, and self-discovery
4. It is a story of hope, understanding, and kindness
5. It illustrates how marvelous it is that you can change your path midstream
6. Though the characters are caterpillars, I find that I "get them" and they totally "get me"
This is a great one to get for yourself, for a friend who is facing a challenge, for high school students heading off to college, for college kids getting ready to face the "real world". It is a good one, I promise.
My next Lost in the Pages installation will be a special treat. I had the honor of receiving a preview copy of The Emerald Tablet: The Forgotten Worlds Book 1 by P.J. Hoover, which won't be in book stores until October! I'm just about finished reading this science fiction novel for middle school and young adult readers and can't wait to tell you about it.
What are YOU reading? What are your KIDS reading? Be sure to leave a note and let me know!
Who knows, I might invite you to share a review . . . or your suggestion might end up on my night stand and I'll review it myself! Remember - I'm always looking for great books to review.