Set in mini-beast land, we’re introduced to Worm, Slug, Maggot and Leech. Despite leading adventurous lives, they’re not satisfied. They’re all ‘down’ about their appearance: too ugly, plain, round or boring. The insects fantasise about being able to change their looks and desperately want to be like others. Maggot dreams of having bee-like stripes and ladybird spots; Slug wishes for wings like a butterfly; Worm wants long, elegant spider’s legs and antennae; Leech wants to be noticed with a fire-fly tail. They all firmly believe that the path to true happiness lies in the transformation of their appearance (just like in fairy tales).
Along comes ‘Miss Stick’, a meditating stick insect with an optimistic outlook. She explains that she doesn’t use ‘magic’ to bring health, wealth, fortune and fame, but instead creates happiness with the power of her mind. Suddenly we see the mini-beasts transformed and their wishes granted. At first they are delighted with their new physical attributes, but the novelty soon wears off as the downsides emerge. Maggot and Leech’s colourful appearance makes them easy targets for hungry birds. Slug’s pretty wings make him heavy and immobile, and Worm can’t squeeze into his hole because of his cumbersome legs and antennae.
The friends sheepishly realise that they’re not supposed to look like other creatures, and being like others won’t guarantee happiness. They miss their own appearances, and feel grateful for what they had, ‘good and bad’.
Like a 6-legged Jerry Springer, Miss Stick summarises her thoughts: “Your mind is such a powerful thing, it can make you feel too fat, or thin. What an incredible creature you are, with determination, you’ll go far.”
The story concludes with the mini-beasts, back to their natural appearance, declaring that they’re not plain, round, ugly, boring and down, but lovely, truly marvellous creatures!