Audio files and Narration
Once upon a time, far away from any city or town, there was a large brick farmhouse. Behind the house, there were lush gardens, and behind that there was a cool, shimmering pond. That was as far as anyone ever dared to go, for beyond the pond there were dark woods full of scary creatures like bats and spiders … and snakes.
But this was a bright and very un-scary afternoon when the farmer boy walked out of his house to do his daily chores. First on his list was to gather some water for his family to drink, so he galloped across the gardens toward a deep stone well just at the edge of the woods.
Did you hear that? I forgot to mention – at the bottom of the well, there lived a family of toads: there was a Toad, her mother, and her two sisters (who were also toads, unlike most of your sisters and brothers!). Just as the Farmer Boy was lowering his pail of water down into the well, the Mother-Toad was gathering her children to tell them a family secret.
She said, “One of you is special. One of you has a jewel in her eyes.” Her children looked puzzled, so she continued, “It’s a precious jewel, but it’s very difficult to see.” The Mother-Toad said all of this in her low, grumbly, Mother-Toad voice.
The Toad peered over the edge of her rock to look at her reflection in the water, but it was too dark to see. She wondered, “How will I ever know if I have a jewel in my eyes when I live in such darkness?” Her two toad-sisters hopped over from another rock and said, “Surely the jewel isn’t in your eyes – you’re far too small and very, very ugly!”
The Toad dances until 1:22, and then the Toad-Sisters dance until the end.
Just then, the Farmer Boy’s pail plunged into the water at the bottom of the well, and the Toad thought, “Even if I haven’t got the jewel in my eyes, I simply have to get to the top of the well and look around; it must be beautiful up there!” So she hopped into the pail and rode it higher and higher into the bright daylight. At the top, the Farmer Boy shrieked: “Ew! There’s a Toad in my water!” And he shooed the Toad away.
The Toad rises in the basket until 0:20, and then the Farmer Boy sees her. From 0:40 onward, the Toad hops away happily.
The Toad hopped to safety and looked around. There were dark, scary woods on one side, and there was tall grass on the other. Under the bright afternoon sun, the Toad was drying out fast. She became worried; would she be forced into the scary woods, or would she stay in the sun and shrivel up like a raisin? Suddenly, through the grass, she heard a distant splashing. She hopped toward the commotion and found a beautiful pond, full of geese. The geese were graceful in the water, but as they came on land, they stumbled and bumped into each other.
The youngest, cleverest Goose came over to the Toad and said, “Hello there, Toad! Do you like jokes?” The Toad wasn’t sure she had ever heard a joke, but as she hesitated, the Goose pressed on anyway, and asked, “What is a Toad’s favorite drink? … Hot Croak-o!”
But the Toad had more important things to worry about, so she asked the Goose if he saw a jewel in her eyes. He looked deeply into her eyes, but suddenly, across the lake, a snake appeared. It slithered slimily across the shore, and when it saw the Toad and the Geese, its mouth watered and it snapped its sharp teeth.
The Toad was quivering with fear, but the Goose said, “Don’t worry! The snake is far away, and we can easily escape if we start moving now.” As they walked, the Toad was still quivering, so the Goose told her another joke. “What is a snake’s favorite state? … Hiss-issippi!”
Just then, the sun dipped over the horizon and darkness began to fall. The Toad suddenly realized that she had nowhere to sleep. But the Goose had a plan; he said, “Every night, I sleep in a nice comfortable bed – a flowerbed! Follow me.”
So the Goose led the Toad to the flowerbed, which was nestled under the shade of a beautiful tree. As the Toad and the Goose snuggled up among the flowers, the fireflies awoke to do their shimmering dance. And the flowers that only bloomed at night opened in the light of the full moon.
The Firefly dances until 1:25, then the Night-Blooming Flowers dance until the end
It was such a beautiful sight to see, and the Toad realized that she never would have seen it if she hadn’t explored the world outside of her well. With this happy thought, she fell fast asleep.
When she opened her eyes early the next morning, the Toad looked up and saw a caterpillar hanging from a tree branch above the flowerbed. The Caterpillar was swaying lazily in the wind and was just beginning to poke out of its cocoon.
But the Toad wasn’t the only one who noticed the Caterpillar. The Goose saw it, too, and called to its Goose brothers and sisters, “Look! Breakfast!” The Geese swarmed hungrily around the Caterpillar, nibbling at its cocoon.
The Toad knew she needed to distract the Geese or else they would eat the Caterpillar. So she suddenly thought of a joke, and she shouted it out: “What do you get when you eat a caterpillar? … Butterflies in your stomach!”
The Goose said, “Well that doesn’t sound very appetizing!” So he and the other geese decided to eat some good, healthy grass instead. The Caterpillar smiled down at the Toad, and then continued to wriggle its way out of the cocoon.
Far above them all, soaring high in the air, a huge, elegant Stork shouted, “You’d better be careful, or you’ll attract the snake’s attention!” But the Toad didn’t hear this warning; she was too taken with the beautiful Stork and its family. They soared and dived weightlessly in the air as they flapped their graceful wings.
The Toad looked up at the storks flying with such freedom in the morning air, and she suddenly wished that she could fly. Of course, Toads don’t have wings. But she had already left the dark, slimy well. Maybe she could find a way to climb even higher, to explore even more of this beautiful world!
But her reverie was broken when the snake suddenly appeared! First, the snake chased after the Geese, who flew away. Then, he raced toward the Toad, who hopped away. Finally, he slithered hungrily toward the caterpillar, who was still struggling in her cocoon!
The Snake pursues the Geese, then the Toad, then the Caterpillar.
Just as the Snake slithered the final inches toward the Caterpillar, the Toad hopped up behind him and tied his tail in a knot around the trunk of the tree. The snake was stuck! He angrily snapped his jaws and struggled to get away, which only tightened the knot that his tail made around the tree.
The Toad was relieved, and she looked up to the cocoon, but the Caterpillar was gone! It had broken free of its cocoon, and it was flying away as a beautiful butterfly.
As the butterfly rose higher and higher, the Toad wished again that she could feel such freedom. The Stork called down to the Toad: “Nice job wrangling that snake! Do you want to take a ride on my back and see the view from up here?” The Toad grinned widely and accepted.
The Stork swooped down and picked up the Toad. As they rose higher and higher above the farm, she looked down and saw the well where she was born. She thought of her mother, and the Toad suddenly realized that she did have a jewel in her eyes. That jewel was her ambition to explore the world around her, and to help her friends stay out of danger.
The Geese and the Butterfly flew alongside the Stork as the morning sun rose higher and higher. In that beautiful moment, the Toad felt like she was one with the whole earth, with the air, and with the bright sun. She closed her eyes, and she smiled.
The Toad and the Stork are featured at 0:33. The Geese and the Butterfly are featured at 1:09.