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Literature / The Adventures of Caterpillar Jones

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The Adventures of Caterpillar Jones is a children's book by the J.J. Brothers released in 1999.

The book tells the story of Horatio Jones Caterpillar, C.J. for short, who is born one day and learns about the world, its beauty, and its dangers. C.J. vows to become an Adventurer and make his mark on the world while meeting friends like Sammy, finding love in Cat, and facing his fears along the way. C.J. is afraid of a lot of things, but he must overcome them—including his greatest fear of all, loneliness—if he is to become a butterfly.

It was followed by a sequel released in 2002, Caterpillar Jones and the Adventures of Nut E. Squirrel, where C.J. helps Nut E. Squirrel change his habits in order to save his home and his job as mayor.

These books contain examples of:

  • The Ace: Champion Squirrel is a graceful, athletic warrior trained by the Great Owl himself, and singlehandedly won the Squirrel Olympics.
  • An Aesop: The first book deals with overcoming fear and learning to let go, while the second deals with exercise and good habits.
  • Allegory: C.J.'s quest to become a butterfly and the characters he encounters, particularly the Great Owl and E. Phil Snake, are meant as a religious allegory.
  • Animal Religion: Most of the meadow's creatures worship the Great Owl of Light, but the Great Owl of Light is simply a messenger of Mother Nature.
  • Artifact Title: The second book retains the Caterpillar part of the title even after C.J. became a butterfly at the end of the previous book.
  • Artistic License Biology: Most snakes don't eat caterpillars, and the few that do, such as garter snakes, don't have blood-red eyes and poisonous fangs.
  • Ascended Extra: Peety the Chipmunk appeared for about 1 chapter in the first book, but appears throughout the second.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Great Owl saves C.J. and Cat from E. Phil Snake, and in the second book Champion saves C.J. and Sammy from the spider Shadow.
  • Book Ends: The first book opens with C.J. meeting Sammy and vowing to become an Adventurer, and ends with two other young caterpillars affirming he is one.
  • Butterfly of Transformation: C.J.'s journey is both a literal and symbolic form of this, as he literally transforms from caterpillar to butterfly and, in doing so, symbolically lets go of what's holding him back and embraces his new life.
  • Coming of Age Story: As C.J. grows he learns to overcome his fears and let go of his lost loved ones, earning the right to become a butterfly.
  • Cool Old Guy: Clarence and George are a retired pair of Adventurers who learned how to do the Flip and climb Ponder Rock without Traveling Thread, inspiring Sammy and C.J. to do the same at an even younger age. They keep up their adventurous ways after becoming butterflies, and go Cloud Climbing together.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Most of the meadow's inhabitants credit the Great Owl of Light with the creation of the meadow and worship him as a God-like figure. However, the Owl himself says Mother Nature made the meadow and he's simply one of her helpers, making her the real example.
  • Cut Short: The second book ends with a sequel hook as the butterflies head to Butterfly Island, but no more books in the series were made.
  • Deus ex Machina: Right as the snake is about to eat C.J. and Cat, the Great Owl flies overhead and scares him off.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: While both C.J. and Sammy take wives, they're such close friends they're on the cover of the book together.
  • Hurricane of Puns: E. Phil Snake dispenses several puns as he attempts to eat C.J. and Cat.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The second book's cover spoils that C.J. becomes a butterfly.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Champion turns out to be Nut E. Squirrel's long-lost brother, Tommy, who was thought to have drowned.
  • Love at First Sight: C.J. falls in love with Cat immediately, and so does Sammy with Sandy.
  • Middle Name Basis: Cat tends to call C.J. "Jones."
  • Mother Nature: While she's never seen and may be the abstract concept of nature, the Owl gives Mother Nature credit with creating the Meadow, telling C.J. that she is the mother of change.
  • Motor Mouth: Peety the chipmunk is absent-minded and tends to ramble on incessantly.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: C.J. almost never goes by his full name, and Cat's full name, Joan B. Caterpillar, is only mentioned twice. Nuthaniel Eaton Squirrel is generally called Nut E. Squirrel.
  • Only the Worthy May Pass: The Life Watch is a series of memories that must be viewed and overcome for a caterpillar to climb the Tree of Life and become a butterfly.
  • The Owl-Knowing One: The Great Owl is regarded as the creator of the meadow, and is very wise and powerful. It ends up being played with, as while he is wise and powerful, he grew up and learned like a normal owl and attributes Mother Nature with the meadow's creation.
  • Primal Fear: C.J.'s greatest fear is being alone, and late in the book all his friends complete their Life Watches, leaving him the last caterpillar in the meadow.
  • Punny Name: E. Phil Snake and Nut E. Squirrel are obvious puns on their species and disposition, and Telly Vision the ferret is a pun on 'television'.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: E. Phil Snake tries to eat C.J. and Cat, and is the only evil character in the first book.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Cat doesn't get much characterization other than liking C.J., and Sammy's wife Sandy gets even less characterization.
  • Spiders Are Scary: A spider named Shadow tries to eat C.J. and Sammy early in the second book after they fall into his web.
  • Surpassed the Teacher: Sammy and C.J. manage to climb Ponder Rock and do the Flip at a younger age than the Adventurers who discovered the technique.
  • Troll: Sammy is a prankster, especially early on, and convinces C.J. that the Great Owl eats young caterpillars after the Life Watch.
  • "What Do They Fear?" Episode: The final Life Watch memory is of something that scared the viewer more than anything else in their life, and they must relive it without being afraid to enter the Owl's world.
  • Worldbuilding: The second book goes into more detail about Mulberry Meadow and its surrounding areas, which are divided into sections and each have their own mayor, as well as where butterflies go for the winter.