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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Note (02/07/13)

TITLE: Nina Olivia Tso, Entomologist
By Jessica Jenkins


“Nina, time for lunch!” My mom’s voice came ringing up the stairs.

I tore my eyes away from the terrarium and flew down the stairs. “My observations are at a critical point,” I mumbled, stuffing a few carrots in my mouth. “Two of the chrysalises are transparent. They could hatch any minute!”

“That’s great, honey.” Mom gave me her sandwich and piled some pretzels and carrots on my plate. “Take your plate and go ahead back to your butterflies. You’ve been waiting a long time for this.”

All great scientists must have had parents like mine.

I decided to become an entomologist after our class watched a show about scientists discovering new insects in the Amazon. When I told my dad he laughed but told me it was a good plan. He told me if I wanted to study insects I’d better learn to take good notes. The next day he gave me a fat green notebook with the word NOTE written really big down one side. He said it was for me, Nina Olivia Tso, Entomologist.

For my fourth grade science project, I decided to record the lifecycles of butterflies. I started with ten eggs. Four never hatched. Then of my six caterpillars, two died mysterious deaths. Four caterpillars made chrysalises, but the first one turned black and fell off after six days. That left three. Now two were ready to hatch.

The first chrysalis split and the butterfly slowly crawled out. His wings were all crumpled and weird but he hung upside down fluttering them for a while and they slowly got bigger and more normal looking. Then he crawled up onto the top of the branch in the terrarium. As he sat in the sunshine, he fluttered his wings more and they finally became really big and beautiful. I wrote down every move he made.

The second butterfly took longer to crawl out of his chrysalis. His wings were crumpled, too, and he hung upside down just like the first one. He tried to flutter his wings but they seemed really heavy. Instead of crawling up on top of the branch he dropped down to the bottom of the tank. His wings were still small and wrinkly. Finally, I picked him up and stuck him up on the branch beside the other butterfly. He kind of drooped down and sat still.

“C’mon buddy, flutter your wings.” I poked him to make him move. “Look at your friend. You have to get moving.” He took a few steps and twitched his wings but then just huddled down in a little pile.

My dad stuck his head in the door and held out a brownie.

“How’re the butterflies, Nini?” he asked.

“This one is beautiful, Dad!” I waved him over to look. “It’s amazing! But the other one is sick, I think. He didn’t want to climb up to the sunshine. His wings never got bigger.” I sighed. “I don’t think he’ll be able to fly.”

“It is amazing,” Dad answered with a smile. “It’s too bad about this one, though.” He smoothed my hair as he read through my notes. He looked at the crippled butterfly thoughtfully. “You know, this reminds me of how people can be. Everyone is born the same but some people choose to climb up and let God’s light shine on them. Other people don’t want to climb up and they just stay the way they were born.” He handed me my notebook and looked at the butterflies again, “Just a thought from your old dad.”

My dad is the smartest person in the world so I added what he said at the end of my project notes.

P.S. People are like butterflies. We all start out with crumpled wings. But if we climb up and let God’s love shine on our wings they will become big and beautiful and we’ll be able to fly.

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Loni Bowden-Horn 02/17/13
Beautifully written story about the challenges we can face but if we put our trust in God, we can fly and soar.

I really learned a great deal about butterflies and what an Entomologist does.

Thank you for sharing your gift of writing with us.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/17/13
I absolutely love this! What a brilliant idea and I loved the subtle humor in the girl's name. So on topic and in more than one way.

I think this would make a great kids story. The only thing I would change is instead of Dad having the epiphany, have the kid come to that conclusion. One of the mistakes kids' publishers have noted that adult authors make is to have the adult resolve the conflict. It's great to have an adult guide the kids and be a good example, but most publishers prefer kids do the problem solving.

With that said, I still think it's a bit of genius. This allegory is such a perfect fit. We all need to strive to climb towards the Son and open our wings. Great job with this story. It's one of my favorites for sure.
C D Swanson 02/21/13
Congrats. God bless~