| Kindergarten Gems|
|by Agnes Taylor Ketchum|
|A full collection of stories and rhymes for the youngest listeners. In addition to the usual fairy tales, folk tales, and fables, there are numerous stories about animals, tales of everyday doings, and stories of the seasons. The material is conveniently arranged in groups, with several stories and rhymes for each holiday and season throughout the year. Numerous black and white illustrations complement the text. Ages 4-8 |
N an old wood, where the trees bend and shut out the sun, and the ground
is all covered with moss, stumps and logs, ferns and bright toad-stools,
lives the little snail. He cannot run as fast as his neighbor, the lizzard, but
he does the best he can. He has no particular house, but travels about,
looking for his dinner, and generally
spends the night near by. Like a
soldier, he carries his tent with him,
always on his back, ready to run into
it when the enemy appears. For his
dinner, he likes a certain kind of toad-stool;
he runs up the stem, and clings fast to the
smooth, firm edges, making a delightful
meal. Once he had been a tiny white egg,
like a partridge berry, tucked away under a
soft mossy blanket. When ready to come
out, he ate up the egg-shell, and set off to
look for food. His house was nearly one
inch across, and striped brown and gold.
The house grew as fast as the snail, and he
could not leave it, even if he wished to. His
body is flat on the lower side; instead of feet, he has many little suckers,
to hold fast to stones, or wood, or walk. He has many brothers and cousins
in the woods. One day the snail heard a voice, while climbing a tree; he
was so scared that he nearly lost his balance, but remembered that it
would break his shell to fall. He listened. Two squirrels were talking
loud, and a little bird sat near by, putting in a word now and then.
"You are nobody," said the bigger squirrel, very angry. "How dare
you steal my nuts?"
 "I did not think of stealing," timidly replied the other.
"Better not try it again! My name is Lord Grey. You have no name."
Bird sang, "Oh, yes, his name is Chippy, and mine is Robin Red-Breast.
We are as good as you!"
"How much talk about names," thought the snail. "I would not tell
Lord Grey, but I have none. How could I get one?"
The squirrel scampered away, and the snail continued his walk,
thinking how to get a name. He forgot to
look for toad-stools, and passed
several. He could hardly sleep that
night. Next morning he was Hungry,
and, while looking for his breakfast,
he came to a big stone, creeping over
it, instead of going around. Suddenly,
something pounced on him, and he
forgot to run into his house; he walked
about a little, and found himself on a
hand; it made him very dizzy to be
up so far from the ground. A beautiful little girl, with blue eyes and
yellow curls, had picked him up, and he had heard her say, "Oh! see
what a beauty! Let us take him home for a pet." When she reached home,
she put him on the window-sill, where three pair of eyes stared at him.
"Now, what sliall we call him?" said Alice; "he surely must have a
name. How would Helix do? "
"That is a pretty name," said her brother; "and as you have named
him, I will give him a place to live." He prepared a large pan, with moss,
and moistened it to keep it cool and fresh. The snail was delighted with
his name, and the children fed him every day, with sponge cake, which he
preferred to toad-stool, so he was qui happy in his new home. They had
other snails, named Seewell and Fayette, but Helix was their pet, and every
 day he took a walk over Alice's hand. When he wanted to go anywhere,
he put out a pair of horns to feel; and if he wanted to see, he would put
out another pair of longer horns, with eyes on the ends. One day, little
Alice went out riding, and did not have time to put Helix away, but left
him on the window-sill under a tumbler. Toward noon the sun crept around,
and shone in the window; it was so warm, that Helix put out his horns,
as far as he could, to get fresh air. It became hotter and hotter, and the
poor little fellow could get no air, and so had to die. When Alice came
home, she found him lying there, and poured cold water on him; this did
no good. Alice cried at the loss of her pet, and felt sorry that she had
been so careless. Her brother made a picture of Helix, and put it away
with the shell, which was no longer golden, but white.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics