A tiny caterpillar crawls into a cave that is Hare’s home and plays a trick on all the animals by terrifying them with his big booming voice. A fun, cumulative tale that teaches children how courage and confidence are not always related to size.  (duration – 7 minutes) An episode from Journey with Story, a storytelling podcast for children.

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The Caterpillar’s Voice – African Folktale 

Have you ever heard an echo before?  If you have ever been inside a cave and shouted out – you will hear the echo of your own voice – it sort of bounces back to you a few seconds later – and can sound very loud. 

Hello everyone, I ‘m Kathleen Pelley.  Welcome to JWS. Today’s story is about a caterpillar who crawls inside a cave and causes a lot of chaos for all the other animals when they hear him shouting from the cave. 

Thanks to all of you who have been sending me your pictures and comments and telling me how much you are enjoying this podcast 

This story is dedicated to…. 

Suvarna from Bangalore whose mum told me she has listened to some of my stories over 20 times – Hurrah for Suvarana – how marvelous to listen to your favorite stories over and over again – that way they will always have a place in your heart.  

Let’s take a journey with The Caterpillar’s Voice 






Once upon a time a caterpillar happened to crawl inside a cave which was the house of a hare.  The hare was out and about, busy meeting his friends in the forest.  So the caterpillar made himself right at home. 

Now, when the hare returned,  he noticed new marks on the ground just outside the cave. He called, “Who’s in my house? 

The caterpillar boomed out in a loud voice, “It is I! Yes, I who crushes rhinos to the earth and tramples elephants into dust!”  

The hare hopped about, crying, “What can a small animal like me do with a creature who crushes rhinos and tramples elephants?”  And he ran off in a tizzy of terror. 

 But soon he met a jackal, and he asked the jackal to talk to the terrible creature who had taken over his home.  “Please make him leave, please!” he  begged. 

The jackal agreed, and when they reached the cave, he barked loudly and said, “Who is in the house of my friend the hare?”  

The caterpillar replied in a voice that rocked the earth, “It is I! Yes, I who crushes rhinos to the earth, and tramples elephants into dust!” On hearing this the jackal thought, “Certainly I can do nothing against such a creature,” and he quickly left. 


So, then, the hare raced off and  found a leopard – he begged the leopard to help him.   The leopard agreed and on  reaching the spot, the leopard bared his claws and growled, “Who is in the house of my friend the hare?”  

Once more the caterpillar cried out in a loud voice, 

It is I! Yes, I who crushes rhinos to the earth, and tramples elephants into dust!”  

“Oh dear,” thought the leopard  “If he crushes rhinos and elephants, I don’t even want to think about what he could do to me!”  And he turned and fled. 

 Again the hare raced off and found a rhinoceros.  “Please can you help me?” he cried. 

“No doubt, I am the most fearsome of beasts,” grunted the rhino. “Of course I can get rid of this intruder for you.”   

And off he marched to the hare’s cave, where he snorted and pawed the ground with his massive feet. But when the rhino asked who was inside and heard the caterpillar’s booming reply,  

It is I! Yes, I who crushes rhinos to the earth, and tramples elephants into dust!” he thought, “What, he says he can crush me to the earth?” And the rhino thundered away, crashing through the forest. 

Poor hare was growing desperate and off he went to ask the elephant for his help. But just like all the other animals before him, when Elephant heard what the caterpillar had to say, the elephant knew that he had no wish to be trampled underfoot like dust, and stomped off. 

 In despair by this point, the hare asked a frog passing by if he could possibly make the creature who had frightened all the other animals leave his house. The frog went to the cave door and asked who was inside. He received the same reply as had been given to the others. Then the frog went nearer and shouted, “I, who am the strongest of all, have come at last. I am the one who crushes those who crush the rhinos! I am the one who tramples underfoot those who trample the elephants!” 

“I, who am the strongest of all, have come at last!” 

When the caterpillar inside the hare’s cave heard this, he trembled. He sensed the shadow of the frog coming nearer and thought, “After all, I am only a caterpillar!” And the caterpillar inched out of the hare’s den along its edge, trying not to be noticed. 

The animals who had collected around the hare’s house seized the caterpillar and dragged him out. “What, you?” they all cried in disbelief. 

I would never dream of staying in that cave!” said the caterpillar with his nose in the air. “An echo like that is far too crude for a refined creature like myself!” As he sniffed away, all the other animals laughed at the trouble he had given them. 


Hope you enjoyed this story, Savarna.  Thanks for telling me your favorite stories are The Magic Tree, Mama Ostrich and LGL 


If you have a favorite story do tell me – you can find me on IG at JWS and don’t forget mums and dads – please take a moment to rate, review and share our ad free podcast. 


Cheerio then, join me next time for JWS