Happy ending

hopperfeatThis story begins as too many do these days, another reminder of the human spirit in fundamental darkness: ignorance, meanness, alienation.

But unlike those big stories — driven by bellicose world leaders with little intelligence and less heart — this tiny tale is redeemed by finer aspects of the human spirit: understanding, compassion, inclusion.

Its subject is 8-year-old Sophia Spencer, who was ostracized and bullied by her Ontario classmates because she loves insects.   When she carried a caterpillar around school, talking to it, kids made fun of her. When she brought another caterpillar to class for show-and-tell, a boy asked to see it — and then stomped on it, according to a Toronto Star article.


Patrick Doyle/Toronto Star

The cruel scrutiny laid ruin to Sophia’s self-confidence; for a time the little girl lost heart and her passion for bugs. That’s when her mother e-mailed the Entomological Society of Canada, hoping to find a mentor who would encourage Sophia’s love of insects.

The response was overwhelming: After a grad student posted the e-mail to Twitter, more than a hundred bug buffs from around the world lined up as pen pals. Their hearts went out to the Sophia, but there was something more going on, according to Morgan Jackson, the entomology student who publicized Nicole Spencer’s letter on Twitter.

“A lot of people maybe can see themselves in Sophia a little bit and are taking this chance to be compassionate and kind of reach into their own past and provide a little bit of the compassion and help that they wish maybe they had,” Jackson told NPR in a recent interview.

They sent words of encouragement and photos; an Australian biochemist at the University of Queensland sent an image of herself milking a tarantula.

The story went viral on social media under the hashtag #BugsR4Girls, and a year later, Sophia — who is cute as a bug’s ear, with a voice to match — has regained her confidence, and is sharing her love of insects with classmates*:


Her story of imperiled innocence has become a hopeful narrative,  a paean to the redemptive power of human understanding, compassion and togetherness. And not just that, but a from-the-mouths-of-babes reminder to regard with curiosity and appreciation even the smallest creatures with whom we share this planet.

Like Sophia’s favorite,  the grasshopper:


You might guess what Sophia Spencer wants to be when she grows up, but I like to hear her tell it in her little-girl voice:   the happy ending to a story of a dream nearly lost, and then restored. And a reminder that what some people — too many people — tear asunder, others may yet make whole.




*Audio clips are excerpted from All Things Considered;  listen to the full story here



  1. When I was a kid I used to bring caterpillars home in my pockets. That’s a sweet story.


    1. It is a sweet story. I hope you, too, kept your love for those caterpillars, with or without the encouragement of the outer world. Non-humans of all kinds need our appreciation if they are to survive. Thank you for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “The more hard work you do the better the thing you are working for is …” Wise words from a child. A lovely child too … Thank you for sharing this lovely, heart-lifting story. I feel as Pradita Kapahi felt.


    1. Glad you enjoyed it, my friend!


  3. innocence & purity
    overcome being
    bugged 🙂


  4. Wonderful! Unfortunately kitty Stella doesn’t have the same compassion for centipedes.


    1. We each have our limits. 🙂


  5. Judy Briggs · · Reply

    This is a great story. Thanks!


    1. You’re welcome. Hearing it on NPR really brightened my day!


  6. This is such a beautiful story. That girl and the people who have helped her are the kind to give humanity hope. God bless them and thank you for bringing this to our notice.


    1. You’re welcome; I had the same response as you did to this story. Thanks for reading!


      1. You’re most welcome 😊

        Liked by 1 person

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