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Nobody Likes a Caterpillar In Their Tea

Aleen Adams, Illustrated by Ivy McLeod

Nobody Likes a Caterpillar in Their Tea (aka Princess and the Pea) by Ivy McLeod and Aleen Adams published by Jackson Fish Market 1-2 Once upon a time in a green little valley there lived a young prince. His father the King and his mother the Queen could think of nothing else but having their son marry a princess. And while there were many young women who claimed to be princesses, his parents kept telling him that “only a true princess” would do. The young prince hadn’t thought much about marriage, but he certainly had met a lot of girls who claimed to be princesses. And they seemed pretty spoiled if you asked him. The problem was, his parents didn’t ask him. Instead, they kept inviting royal families and their daughters over for tea. 3-4 The first princess to come to tea wore a coat of many colors and a big bonnet of feathers. She was talkative and loud, and had a high-pitched laugh than made the prince’s teeth hurt. The prince thought to himself, “She looks like a bird and sounds like one too. This will not do!” And so he decided to slip a bird into her bonnet. Needless to say, the princess did not stay. Nobody likes a bird in their bonnet! 5-6 The second princess to come to tea was very quiet and wore a big fluffy sweater. “This is already better,” thought the prince. This princess pulled out a book, didn’t say a word, and barely stopped reading to take a sip of tea. The prince thought to himself, “This princess wants to live inside her book, without even giving me a look! This too will not do!” And so he decided to put a caterpillar into her tea. Needless to say, the princess did not stay. Nobody likes a caterpillar in their tea! 7-8 Now the king and queen were getting wise to their son’s antics. Two princesses had left their castle in a huff, and word was getting around that princesses were not welcomed in their home. The king decided he needed to give his son a talking to. “Son, I understand that you did not want to marry those princesses, but that’s no excuse for being rude to our guests! We have one more princess coming to tea, and she’s a Princess-with-a-capital-P, so don’t embarrass me!” the King bellowed. 9-10 The prince felt badly that he had angered his father and embarrassed his family. Lying in bed that night, he decided he would try very hard to be nice to this “Princess-with-a-capital-P” coming to tea the next day, true princess or not. The next day, a horrible storm gripped the valley. The wind tore through the trees and buckets of rain fell from the sky. The royal family grew concerned about the guest they had invited to tea. The Queen fretted, “What if she is stranded somewhere in the storm?” 11-12 Just as the royal family was about to give up on their guest, they heard a knock at their door. Outside, stood a shivering young woman. She was, as expected, very cold, and very wet. “Hello,” she said, “I’m Princess Peony. I’m sorry to be so late for tea!” The royal family invited the princess to spend the night in the warm dry castle. The prince wanted to prove to his parents that he could be nice to princesses, so he began gathering all of the mattresses in the house and piling them one on top of another to make the most comfortable bed possible for Princess-Peony-with-a-capital-P. Princess Peony was quite pleased with the prince’s efforts. 13-14 That night at dinner, the prince found himself gazing adoringly at Princess Peony. She was smart and funny and beautiful. “But, was she a true princess?” he wondered to himself as he shifted the peas around on his dinner plate and into his pocket so his parents would think he had eaten them. (He did not like peas.) After dinner, the queen invited Princess Peony into the library for tea. As they got up from the table, the king gave the prince a stern look that said, “Do not pull any tricks at tea, young man.” The prince hadn’t intended any tricks at tea, but he did have a pocket full of peas. What was he going to do with the pocketful of peas before tea? 15-16 Then, he remembered the piles of mattresses he had made for the princess’s bed. “Since there are so many mattresses, I can just tuck the peas between two of the mattresses, and take them out later and no one will ever know,” he thought to himself. While the rest of the party was getting settled for tea, he quickly ran down the hall to place the peas in the mattresses. It was a brilliant plan. Or so he thought. The princess did her best to be well-mannered and lively throughout tea-time, but the queen, being a gracious queen, noticed how tired she seemed. “Child, we need to get you to bed,” she said, “it’s been a long day and you need your rest.” By this time, the prince had forgotten all about the peas he had put under her mattresses. 17-18 The next morning, Princess Peony joined the family for breakfast. “How did you sleep, dear?” asked the queen. “It’s so strange,” said Princess Peony, “with all of those mattresses piled so high, you’d think that it would have been like sleeping on a cloud, but I kept rolling over on lumps. I can’t imagine what it was.” The prince’s face started to redden. The king peered disapprovingly over his glasses at his son. “Do you imagine you know what it was?” he said. “Uh…well…ummm,” the prince muttered, “I really didn’t mean any harm. Honest. And I’m sorry about the lumps in your sleep, Princess. I was just trying to find a place to put my peas last night! I never thought that you would be able to feel something as small as a pea through all of those mattresses. You must be a true princess!” 19-20 The king, the queen, and Princess Peony all stared at the young prince, trying to make sense of what he had said. “You mean you put PEAS under the poor girl’s mattress?” his mother the queen said, aghast. “First it was a bird in a bonnet. Then it was a caterpillar in tea. Now peas under a mattress! Nobody likes peas under their mattress! I can’t believe we raised you to act this way!” the queen cried. “I really am sorry, Princess,” said the prince looking at the princess, “It’s not you. It’s me. I just don’t like peas.” He smiled sheepishly at her. The princess could see that the prince was truly very sorry. And the more she thought about it, the funnier the situation seemed. She started to smile and then giggle into her napkin. 21-22 “Can you forgive me?” asked the prince. “Of course, I can,” said the princess smiling, “I forgive you. And I won’t ever try to feed you peas!” And that is when the prince realized that he had met a true princess. THE END