Harden Library Hosts Local Author

Written by: The Hilltops Phoenix

Leanne-and-Eric
IMAGE: Leanne Heffernan holds Eric in all his transformed glory.

Local author Leanne Heffernan will share her beautiful new story, inspired by actual events, at Harden Library on Wednesday, June 15 at 11am.

Ms Heffernan said that her new book Eric the Caterpillar’s Amazing Journey was based on a real life caterpillar that arrived on her own doorstep in February.

“It was all very unexpected,” Ms Heffernan said.

“The caterpillar turned up outside my front door. He had big horns - he looked like a little dragon.”

Without giving the whole story away, Ms Heffernan noticed something a little strange on the caterpillar’s body and began searching for a way to help him.

The next 16 days of Eric the Caterpillar’s life lay in the balance. Ms Heffernan documented the entire journey as she and her friend, local biologist Mel, did their best to help Eric on the road to recovery.

You see, Eric had an infestation of parasitic fly eggs that, once hatched, would eat their way through his body before he achieved his transformation into butterfly-hood.

“Eric had started to form his chrysalis overnight,” Ms Heffernan said. “We set up on Mel’s dining room table. We got about 30 eggs.”

“At first, I thought there was about ten, but then he would move his little body and more were hidden in the folds. It was a long morning.”

It was still touch and go there for a while, with Ms Heffernan not expecting Eric to pull through.

“I thought he was going to die,” she said.

“He had come unstuck from his chrysalis.”

“I found this amazing conversation thread about what you can do if you find a caterpillar that had fallen out of his chrysalis.”

“You can replace it by hanging a cotton bud, so I made a lego duplo archway and hung the cotton bud. You just touch the tail end to it and it sticks like velcro.”

We can’t ruin the end of the story, but Eric had his own Facebook page which had over 12,000 followers and likes from over 350,000 people. Eric’s adventure played out just as Russia invaded Ukraine and people were feeling anxious and depressed.

Ms Heffernan said his story had a profound effect on people.

In her storybook, Ms Heffernan replaced herself with a fictional character Annabelle-Rose dedicated to the memory of a friend’s daughter who died of brain cancer five years ago and her own partner’s mother who passed away in 2012 and had her own encounter with one of these beautiful butterflies.

Ms Heffernan plans to recount her experiences with Eric, read the storybook and show a couple of videos.

“I like being able to share my story to the local community,” she said.

“A small act of kindness can make such a big difference on such a deep level.”

Ms Heffernan will visit Boorowa Library on Saturday, June 18 at 10:30 am and Young Library on Thursday, June 23 at 10:30 am.

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