Photo: Eric the Caterpillar’s Amazing Journey illustration.

Eric the Caterpillar’s Amazing Journey will become a children’s book after his story took the world by storm earlier this year as his nearly 13,000 followers watched him become a Tailed Emperor Butterfly.

Leanne Heffernan found little Eric on her verandah in Binalong and discovered he was a Tailed Emperor butterfly naming him Eric after Eric Carle, The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s author.

Writing a book about the experience was a “natural move” for the author after she published her first novel, I Still Dream of Horses, in 2020.

Leanne said the story was also in demand from Eric’s followers with about 200 people commenting along the journey, “You should turn this into a children’s book it will make a great story”. She said the idea definitely had potential.

So in a nod to Eric Carle’s ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, Leanne wrote a book aimed at primary school-aged children. However, Eric the Caterpillar’s Amazing Journey is its own story Leanne said.

“It’s not entirely the same as the way it happened because I found the caterpillar in real life, but in the story, it’s a little girl that finds it and asks her mum for help.”

“Her mum takes it to her friend, Melanie the Scientist, and they remove the eggs.”

“It’s sort of a simplified stripped-back version of how it all happened with the tachinid fly eggs,” Leanne said. “It’s an entertaining story, but it’s also a little bit educational.”

Leanne created all the artwork for the story herself through the program Brushstroke, which uses AI to make photos look like paintings. Although she would have liked to have a go at painting them herself, the mother of three said she didn’t have the time.

After the story finishes there’s a page about how Eric gained popularity and an outpouring of kindness from people all over the world. There will also be some photos of Eric’s metamorphosis and some information about Tailed Emperor Butterflies and tachinid flies.

“The little kids would enjoy the story but the older primary school kids would probably be more interested in the stuff in the back that might be a little bit too much for the smaller kids.”

However, Leanne said the story has something for everyone.

“There’s a lot of people that are saying they want to buy a copy as a bit of a keepsake, or a memento of the journey,” she said. “People really got a lot out of it, which is really cool and they’ve been really sad that it’s over.

The author is self-publishing the book using IngramSpark, an online self-publishing company that allows you to print, globally distribute, and manage your print and ebooks.

There are a few technical steps left before Leanne can launch the book, which will likely be in a few months.

Although Eric the Caterpillar’s Amazing Journey will be available through major sellers like Amazon, Leanne said she hopes to order several copies for herself to sell at the local markets and through her own website.

“You don’t make money out of this kind of thing, but it’d be really cool to get his story out there.”

By Brianna O’Rourke