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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Sammy Snail and the Graneers

Air Date: Week of

Sammy, surrounded by his fellow snailies and his grandmama. (Photo: Lesley Smith)

Ventriloquist, puppeteer, and storyteller Lesley Smith and her writing partner Elizabeth Rose bring us the heartwarming tale of Sammy, a young snailie who learns to appreciate his differences as a gift. Bolstered by the wisdom of his grandmama, he uses his talents to explore, protect, and ultimately save his home from the Graneers, a sinister band of rat wolves.


CURWOOD: It’s Living on Earth, I’m Steve Curwood.

We continue our special storytelling program in this season of the winter solstice with a tale from puppeteer and creator of Sammy Snail, Lesley Smith. Lesley calls her story Sammy and the Graneers.

[MUSIC: Endless Love, "Natural," by Paul Murray]

SMITH: Even in the darkest of months, we remember the sun. Even in the darkest of times, we remember the light within. Sometimes there can be too much light. And today our story is about a little friend with an overflow of light that got him in and out of a whole lot of trouble.

Deep in the forest lived a village of creatures called snailies. They had brightly colored spiral shells, big curious eyes and two bobbing antenna planted on their fuzzy round heads. They were snail-like, but not slow. Snailies moved fast. And their favorite food was kale and broccoli pizza, and their drink of choice was sparkling pond water on ice. They slid along on their protruding tummies using one muscular foot and leaving a trail of glistening snailie gel. They lived in giant-sized mushroom houses, on paths lined with flowers that lit up like lampposts. They were so happy with plenty of food, family and friends. Everyone, except for Sammy. He was a curious, innocent snailie, but born different from the others. Sammy's antenna were supersized. The other younger snailies made fun of him calling him 'waggle head,' 'tentacle brain,' and other unkind names. When he was small, his antenna were so big they tripped the other snailies while they were playing games of soccer. 'Oh, hugger mugger' snailies would shout, meaning Sammy was messing things up again. This made Sammy lonely.

LIZZIE: "We won't let you sit with us on our picnic blanket, Sammy," said Lizzie. "You and your big antenna take up much too much room."

SAMMY: “All I have is a little dish towel, Lizzy," Sammy complained. "I don't even have enough room for my food."

LIZZIE: "That's too bad, isn't it? You just don't fit in with us."

SMITH: Sammy went to his grandmama.

SAMMY: "I think something's wrong with me."

GRANDMAMA: "What do you mean dear," Grandmama asked.

SAMMY: "My rotten antenna are too big. Nobody wants to play with me.“

GRANDMAMA: "That must feel terrible Sammy."

SAMMY: "It makes my eyeballs hurt."

GRANDMAMA: "I think your big antenna are beautiful and very good."

SAMMY: "Good for nothing."

[MUSIC: Sir Cubworth, "Everything is Fine"]

SMITH: Even though he was sad, he climbed trees with birds followed lizards through the grass and floated on the lily pads next to the painted turtles. His big antenna grew to sense a world of vibrations that others just couldn't hear. One day, his antenna trembled. And Sammy heard a voice crying out. He tracked the sound through a meadow and found a firefly trapped in a sticky spider web. Sammy pulled it to safety just as the spider snapped.

FIREFLY: "Thank you friend," squeaked the firefly as it zipped away.

[MUSIC: Asher Fulero, "Web Weaver's Dance"]

SMITH: Sammy rushed home to tell his village.

SAMMY: "My big antenna are good for something. I helped a firefly escape from a spider."

SMITH: The little snailies barely looked up from their games.

SAMMY: "Oh, forget about it."

SMITH: He couldn't wait to practice with his antenna again. This time, he went deeper into the forest. His antenna felt a moaning tiger at a far distance.

BEAVER: "Help me help me, I'm stuck!"

SAMMY: "A tiger? Is stuck? Oh dear."

SMITH: Sammy rushed towards the moans and discovered it wasn't a tiger. It was a hefty beaver trapped under a collapsed wall of rock.

SAMMY: "Stop slapping your tail so I can help you Mr. Beaver."

BEAVER: "You're too little. What can you possibly do?"

SMITH: He quickly smeared the beaver's shoulders with snailey gel and zapped the beaver's behind with his electrified antenna. The beaver shot out of the wall like a rocket ship.

BEAVER: "Whoa, thank you little friend," he said as he disappeared into the inky black water.

[MUSIC: Asher Fulero, "Web Weaver's Dance"]

SMITH: Sammys antenna flashed and sizzled again. Faraway, there was a roar.

SAMMY: "A crying lion? Could it need help?"

[MUSIC: Poison, "Ladybug Arrives"]

SMITH: Sammy zoomed towards the lion and discovered it wasn't a lion at all. It was a distressed red bird. A cardinal, roaring at weasels threatening her babies. They had fallen from their nest.

CARDINAL: "You get away from my babies you weasley weasels," she chittered.

SMITH: Sammy distracted the weasels with a flash from his antenna, and the mother bird batted the weasels away.

CARDINAL: "You saved my babies,"

SAMMY: "I did?"

CARDINAL: "Yes. Oh, so lucky for us you came along when you did. Thank you.

SMITH: As she flew off, Sammy thought, 'maybe my antenna aren't so bad after all.' At which point, they shimmered, blazed and sparkled, and he heard a deep growl far, far away.

SAMMY: "Yahoo! I think I hear a bear. Sammy to the rescue!"

SMITH: Off he went full snailey speed ahead towards the thud, thud, thud deep in the green forest. He skirted a giant beech tree, but tripped on its roots.

[MUSIC: Biz Baz Productions, "Apprehensive at Best," Jennifer Hopper]

SMITH: As he looked up, he saw a band of rat wolves, an animal he had never seen before. They had red, beady eyes, pointed, ratty ears, smelly wolf fur, and long hairless tails. They circled together on a dusty riverbank. Sammy slithered ever so quietly into the dry leaves to hide from them. He carefully poked his antenna out to hear their vibration. The hairiest rat wolf was shouting.

GROG GRANEER: "Listen up Graneers. I, Grog Graneer, your fearless leader, have a treat for you. Tomorrow night, under a foggy, cloudy sky, there will be no moonlight. We will be free to travel to a nice village of simple-minded creatures called snaileys."

SMITH: The Graneers laughed through their long fangs and whiskers.

GROG GRANEER: "They have delightful homes, inside giant mushrooms, perfect for our comfort, stocked with yummy food. We will kick them out of their houses and take over the village, and the village will be ours. Graneerification!"

SMITH: The rat wolves cheered. Sammys antenna wiggled and glowed.

SAMMY: "Oh no, don't do that antenna. No!"

[MUSIC: Doug Maxwell, "Etherial Choir Ascends", Media Right Productions]

SMITH: But his antenna beamed like lightsabers, shimmered and sparkled with so much light that Sammy was sure he would be caught. But it was the Graneers writhing in pain as they looked in Sammy's direction. The light hurt their eyes and they ran.

SAMMY: "They can't stand my light. But wait, I have to warn everyone. They're coming to take over our village."

SMITH: Sammy slithered as fast as he could the whole way home without stopping. Then he went from mushroom to mushroom knocking on doors and crying out.

SAMMY: "Danger, danger. A band of rat wolves called Graneers are coming tomorrow night and they're planning to take our village."

SMITH: Snailies just looked at him, shook their heads and slammed their doors shut.

SAMMY: "What is the matter with you?"

SMITH: Lizzie snailie approached.

LIZZIE: "I suppose you think you can trick us. There's no such thing as a rat wolf. You should be ashamed."

SMITH: Sammy found Grandmama.

SAMMY: "Why don't they believe me?"

GRANDMAMA: "I don't know dear, but it will work out."

SAMMY: "How?"

GRANDMAMA: "Every creature has a weak spot, something that stops them. What do you think the Graneers' weakness is?"

SMITH: Sammy told her how his antenna flared like firecrackers when they first met.

SAMMY: "They are afraid of light. It hurts their red eyes."

GRANDMAMA: "So, we need bright light don't we? When are they coming?"

SAMMY: "Tomorrow night under a foggy, cloudy sky."

GRANDMAMA: "Well, the light of the moon doesn't go away just because it's cloudy."

SAMMY: "Thank you Grandmama, I have an idea!"

SMITH: Sammy ran into the forest.

[MUSIC: Nate Blaze, "Boundless Energy"]

Sammy is a recurring character in Lesley’s work across a variety of media. (Photo: Lesley Smith)

SMITH: The next night was dark and foggy as the Graneers ran silently through the deep woods towards the village. Sammy hid out of sight as the Graneers circled each mushroom and knocked at their doors.

GROG GRANEER: "Come out, come out," called Grog Graneer, "or we will come in and force you out."

SAMMY: "Not so fast Graneers."

SMITH: The woods came alive with hundreds of cardinals and every kind of bird imaginable. They flew at the Graneers who staggered and swatted to keep them away. Then his friends, the lizards, beavers and turtles tripped the rat wolves while thousands of fireflies circled their heads. The light was so bright, the Graneers cried out in pain and tightly closed their eyes. One by one, the rat wolves ran from the village as the snailies watched. The snailies rushed over to thank Sammy, who was mighty shook up.

SAMMY: "You always made fun of my big antenna, but they, they, they're my power. And they helped me make all these friends."

SMITH: As he gestured to the forest friends, Lizzie stepped forward.

LIZZIE: "I can see I made a mistake Sammy, and you have two superpowers. Your heart is as big as your antenna. Please forgive me."

SAMMY: "Thank you, Lizzie. I forgive everybody, cuz I love you. You're my family."

SMITH: Sammy was still shaking as Grandmama stepped forward and wrapped him in her arms.

GRANDMAMA: "You can't hide your bright light under a bushel dear, when the light and your goodness are who you are."

SMITH: She looked upon the village of round snailies, their bobbing antenna and curious big eyes all smiling at her. And at Sammy, with his big bright antenna aglow.

GRANDMAMA: And that light is in each and every one of us. We must always let it shine!

[MUSIC: Endless Love, "Natural," by Paul Murray]

CURWOOD: So Leslie Smith, where does that story come from?

SMITH: The story is sort of autobiographical, in that I experienced a lot of bullying and did bully prevention programs for many, many years to help children understand that it's not their fault, and that there's special qualities that all of us have that come out later in life, that light within us, that needs to be explored and discovered and then shared with the world.

[MUSIC: Endless Love, "Natural," by Paul Murray]

CURWOOD: Puppeteer and ventriloquist Lesley Smith. The story Sammy and the Graneers was written by Lesley Smith and Elizabeth Rose.



All things Sammy Snail

More about Lesley Smith’s work

More about Elizabeth Rose’s work


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