Authors: Kitty Richards
Copyright © 2005 Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved. Published by Disney Press, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information address Disney Press, 114 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10011-5690.
F YOU HEAD
toward the second star on your right and fly straight on till morning, you’ll come to Never Land, a magical island where mermaids play and children never grow up.
When you arrive, you might hear something like the tinkling of little bells. Follow that sound and you’ll find Pixie Hollow, the secret heart of Never Land.
A great old maple tree grows in Pixie Hollow, and in it live hundreds of fairies and sparrow men. Some of them can do water magic, others can fly like the wind, and still others can speak to animals. You see, Pixie Hollow is the Never fairies’ kingdom, and each fairy who lives there has a special, extraordinary talent.
Not far from the Home Tree, nestled in the branches of a hawthorn, is Mother Dove, the most magical creature of all. She sits on her egg, watching over the fairies, who in turn watch over her. For as long as Mother Dove’s egg stays well and whole, no one in Never Land will ever grow old.
Once, Mother Dove’s egg
broken. But we are not telling the story of the egg here. Now it is time for Prilla’s tale.…
RILLA KNELT ON
the library shelf. She put her hands over her mouth to hold back her laughter. She kept her eyes on a little girl in pigtails who stood on her tiptoes, reaching for a book.
The girl grabbed the book and slid it off the shelf. Quick as a wink, Prilla popped out from the space where the book had been. The little girl stared at Prilla for a moment. Then she squealed with delight, her blue eyes wide. “A fairy!”
“Shhh!” said the librarian. She gave the girl a stern look. Prilla giggled. She turned a somersault in the air and…
“Grab him, Prilla!” a voice cried.
Suddenly, Prilla was in a sunny meadow, back in Pixie Hollow. Nettle, a caterpillar-shearing-talent fairy, stood in front of her, holding a pair of shears. Nettle pointed to the caterpillar that Prilla was supposed to be keeping still. The caterpillar was bucking around like a little green bronco. It had knocked over a sack of caterpillar fuzz. Prilla was ankle-deep in the stuff.
Prilla sighed. It had been a long and trying day. She was very fond of Nettle, who enjoyed games as much as she did. Just the week before, Prilla and Nettle had had a cartwheel race across a field of buttercups. Afterward, they had collapsed in the grass in a fit of giggles. That was when Nettle had asked her if she would like to give caterpillar shearing a try. Prilla had agreed.
The day had started well enough. Nettle gave Prilla a tour of the caterpillar corral. First they had seen some caterpillars hatching from eggs. Then they’d watched a few caterpillars shedding their skin. Next they had seen some furry caterpillars making their cocoons.
Suddenly, Nettle had grabbed Prilla’s arm. “We’re just in time to watch a butterfly hatch!” she’d whispered.
Prilla had held her breath as they’d silently watched the butterfly emerge from its cocoon. She was amazed that a funny-looking caterpillar could transform into such a beautiful creature.
Watching the butterfly hatch had been exciting. But Prilla had quickly realized that shearing caterpillars was not. Her job was to hold the caterpillars while Nettle clipped their fuzz with her shears. Prilla tried hard to help. But the truth was that she didn’t really like shearing caterpillars at all. It was hot in the sun. It was dull doing the same thing over and over again. But most of all, Prilla just didn’t like caterpillars. Not one bit. They were prickly. They were kind of ugly. And they were ornery.
Bored, Prilla had finally allowed herself to drift off and blink over to the mainland. Prilla was a mainland-visiting clapping-talent fairy, the only one in Pixie Hollow. In the blink of an eye, she could zip from Never Land to the mainland to visit children. Prilla’s talent was very important, for it kept children’s belief in fairies alive. When children didn’t believe in them, fairies died.
But Prilla didn’t visit the mainland only to save fairies’ lives. She also went because it was her favorite thing in the world to do.
And look what had happened! She hadn’t been paying attention, and now things were getting out of control.
Prilla leaned forward to grab the cranky caterpillar around its middle. It wiggled away from her, and Prilla stumbled. The other shearing-talent fairies chuckled in sympathy.
“He’s a wild one, he is,” said Jason, a caterpillar-shearing-talent sparrow man.
Prilla tried once again to seize the creature. The caterpillar reared up. Prilla lost her balance and fell backward. She landed in the grass with a soft thump.
“Don’t worry, Prilla. You can do it!” Jason called, noticing the frown on Prilla’s face.
Still the restless caterpillar wiggled. “There, there,” said Nettle in a soothing voice. She put down her shears.
Nettle’s gentle tone calmed the caterpillar. It began to settle down. Prilla stood and brushed herself off. Not knowing what else to do, she bent to pat the caterpillar on the head.
Quickly, Nettle began to shear the caterpillar. In a couple of minutes, she was done. “That wasn’t so bad, was it?” she asked.
Prilla wasn’t sure if Nettle was talking to her or to the caterpillar. She shook her head anyway.
Nettle let the newly shorn caterpillar go. Prilla watched as it inched away as fast as it could—which was pretty slow.
Nettle smiled at Prilla. “You sit and rest,” she said. “I’ll do the cleaning up.”
Prilla lowered herself onto a moss-covered stone. She picked a stray piece of caterpillar fuzz from the hem of her pale pink silk skirt. Nettle and the other caterpillar shearers began sweeping up the loose fuzz.
Thank goodness that
Maybe tomorrow I won
anything but blink over to the mainland as many times as I want.
It would be a perfect day.
Nettle put the caterpillar fuzz she’d swept up into a sack made of woven grass. She tied it shut with a flourish. Then she loaded it onto a wheelbarrow full of sacks.
Jason picked up the handles of the wheelbarrow. He set off with the load toward the Home Tree, the towering maple tree where the fairies lived and worked. “Have fun, Prilla. Thanks for your help!” he cried.
“Fly safely, Jason!” said Prilla. She waved.
Nettle sat next to her on the stone and patted Prilla’s knee. “What a great day,” Nettle said. “I could tell how much you enjoyed it.”
“Well, I—” Prilla began.
“Being outside, working with those wonderful caterpillars.” Nettle leaned in close to Prilla. She lowered her voice as if she were about to tell her a secret. “Other talents might argue with me, but caterpillar shearing really is the most important talent. Wouldn’t you agree?”
She went on, not waiting for Prilla to answer. “First of all, it helps the caterpillars grow nice woolly coats for when it’s time to build their cocoons. And then there’re all the great things we make out of the fuzz!” She began to list them on her fingers. “Soft pillows, cozy comforters, light-as-a-feather blankets, thick sweaters, those wonderful linens…”
Her voice trailed off.
Prilla nodded. She liked pillows, comforters, blankets, sweaters, and linens as much as the next fairy did. It seemed that caterpillar shearing was indeed very important.
“Yes, it is a lovely talent,” she said out loud.
I just hope I never have to help shear another caterpillar ever again!
she silently added. She leaned back on her elbows.
And before Prilla knew it, she had blinked over to the mainland. She saw a little girl holding a fluffy white dandelion. The girl pursed her lips to blow the seeds. Prilla flew toward her.…
“I said, what do you think?” Nettle said suddenly.
Prilla started. Nettle was looking at her expectantly.
“Sorry, can you repeat that?” Prilla asked.
And then Nettle said the dreaded words: “Same time tomorrow?”