On the Wings of Butterflies
The Empress of Butterflies invites Little Herbert and the mushroom people to a tea party. She wants to thank all those who helped her to complete the difficult transformation from “Big and Ugly Caterpillar” into a gorgeous butterfly. (Adventures of Herbert and His Friends in Flower Kingdom), Herbert enjoys being among his friends once more, and wonders aloud what it would feel like if they could fly. The Empress of Butterflies graciously organizes a ride for her guests, in listing the aid of a local spider who lends them the use of his web. Held aloft by the butterflies, the friends soar gracefully in the makeshift flying carpet. But the spider’s seemingly friendly gesture in fact is a trap: when the butterflies and their ‘passengers’ pass over the spider’s nest, he pulls the threads of his web and makes the unsuspecting creatures his prisoners. Only someone like a super hero can help them.
The beginning of the book:
Herbert looked out the window. His mother was watering blossoming daisies in their back yard. A couple of orange butterflies circled over the flowers trying to choose where to land. “How does it feel – flying as a butterfly,” Herbert contemplated, staring at the daisies. Then his thoughts dove into the memories of his adventures in Flower Kingdom. “I wonder how my mushroom friends are,” he pondered. “It would be great to see Bolly.” Herbert pulled his secret box out of his desk drawer and took out a small, dried up cap of a mushroom. He rubbed it with his finger and suddenly felt a strange urge to go to the state park.
Herbert followed his impulse and in no time found himself standing right near the broken tree that indicated their meeting spot the last time he visited Mushroomland. Herbert rubbed the mushroom cap again, trying to remember the procedure that had to be performed in order to shrink down to the size of a mushroom. He closed his eyes to concentrate – and shrunk!
“But I didn’t even know if I wanted to go back to Mushroomland,” Herbert mumbled in amazement and opened his eyes. Bolly, Chanterelle, Tolly and Saffry were running towards him waving their hands.
“It worked! It worked,” yelled Bolly. “I was sending you special mental signals,” he explained giving Herbert a hug. “Obviously, you felt them. How are you?”
Herbert was so glad to see his friends that his puzzlement about the way he got shrunk disappeared. He put on his mushroom hat and jumped at excitement of being a mushroom again. Later on he found out that the magic of the warlock’s hat was so strong that simply rubbing it, while imagining where he’d like to be, was enough for the transformation.
“Remember Big and Ugly Caterpillar?” Tolly asked Herbert. “She became the Empress of Butterflies.”
“Wow,” exclaimed Herbert. “Who would have thought?”
“Not only that,” said Chanterelle. “She invited us for a tea party, and we thought you’d love to come along.”
“Yes, yes!” Herbert was thrilled. “Is that where we’re going?”
“Not so fast,” Saffry gave Herbert a resentful look. “Don’t you want to visit Forest Town first?”
“Of course. I don’t want to go anywhere without saying ‘hi’ to Grandpa and my fellow mushrooms,” replied Herbert.
The friends, cheerfully chatting, headed for the capital of Mushroomland.
All the citizens came out to celebrate Herbert’s return. They screamed their greetings, waved their hellos and walked him to the Boletus’ house.
When Bolly’s family and friends gathered in the living room around Herbert, he was showered with questions. Everybody wanted to know all the details of Herbert’s human life, but Herbert wanted to hear about the events in Mushroomland.
“All right,” started Grandpa. “After we vanquished the alien Giant Slug, thanks to you, Herbert-the-Mushroom, the peace treaty was signed between the good mushrooms and toadstools. It allowed for both to walk freely anywhere, for our folks to visit Meadow Town, the capital of toadstools, and for toadstools to visit Forest Town.”
“This is good, isn’t it?” remarked Herbert.
“Remember Count Agarr from the dynasty of toadstools?” continued Grandpa. “His son, Count Agarr Jr., fell in love with beautiful Chanterelle, the cousin of our Chanterelle, and she fell in love with him.”
“No,” exclaimed Herbert.
“Well, I must say that despite the treaty, such unions are very far from being approved by both – the good mushrooms and the toadstools,” said Mr. Portobello, who was a judge.