Haera Shin, a junior at Canyon Crest Academy, recently published her first book, “Cocoon”, on the one-year mark of quarantine. The book reflects on the last year but does not mention the words “pandemic” or “virus” —it is more of a cute children’s story. Told through the googly eyes of a small green caterpillar named Jacc, the heartfelt story shares optimism and hope for the future.
On the back of the book, Haera playfully describes herself as a 17-year-old who “lives on the very edge of the moon” and enjoys rainy days and eating “copious amounts of chocolate”. A competitive figure skater, Haera also has a YouTube channel with over 30,000 subscribers where she posts vlogs about her life as a California high schooler. She is also hoping to start a literary magazine to feature the creative works by her peers.
Haera had always been interested in writing a book and was inspired by a creative writing class she began taking in February.
“I felt like I should do something,” she said of the extra spare time she had when her normal life slowed to a standstill. She decided that something would be writing and illustrating her first book.
Inside the insect world of “Cocoon”, one day the earthworm mayor makes an announcement that everyone must stay in their homes, similar to the day when the country shut down in March 2020.
In the beginning, Jacc was happy about staying home: “No more school and more time for fun!” He experiments with inventions and maple food creations. But as the time goes on and on, Jacc gets sad and tired of being alone and misses his friends Spencer the spider, Coco the ladybug, Reid the snail and Mack, a bumblebee. “No amount of maple treats could make him feel better.”
When the mayor announces that everyone can go outside again, Jacc doesn’t even notice that during his time indoors he had grown into a butterfly. When he finally gets outside he sees that “Flowers stretched for miles, laughter filled the air. The world had become beautiful.” And most importantly, he was able to reunite with his friends.
“He understood why they had to stay at home,” Haera said.
At first Haera was going to ask someone else to do the illustrations for the book because she said she doesn’t know how to draw but she ended up giving herself a shot. The newbie artist’s simple drawings are sweet and whimsical and perfectly illustrate a simple tale of growth and understanding.
She learned how to publish the book through Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon and was excited to hold her finished printed product in her hands.
Originally the book started as a personal project but now she hopes that the book’s “magic” message can help kids and grown-ups alike.
On one of the last pages, Jacc the butterfly carries a leaf that reads: “Solitude is an invaluable part of life. A time to comfort and transform ourselves. However solitude is also used to heal the world around us. For the memories that will reignite, for the days that we will seize, we close our doors and dream.”
Find Cocoon on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08Y654663