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Kids' Activities

Jane Lind presents ...

The Puff Adder Who Was Stuck

Written by Jackie Lewis
Illustrated by Cindy Crew

Theme:Environment--The Ecosystem and the Creatures, Ages 5 to 8

The Puff Adder Who Was Stuck

This is a beautiful story, written in the first person in a direct authentic child's voice.

One morning Opal finds an unusual snake when she is hanging out laundry for her mother. She thinks about all the little snakes she is used to, but this one is so big and has such a big head she decides it must be a cobra and she is frightened. She yells for her mother, saying she found a cobra. Her mother has such a sensible response.

"Opal, you know that cobras don't live around here."

When her mother comes to see the snake, she jumps back and says, "Ooooooh... gross!" and Opal laughs because her mother looks so funny.

The commotion draws their friends, and one of them, Sophie, wants to kill the snake, but suddenly Opal feels she wants to protect it. The snake is stuck in the chicken wire, and they agree that they must set it free, but the question is, how? Danny gets a wire cutters, and the children decide "Mum" must do it, which she does, wearing leather mitts and a fur coat while she covers the snake's head with a towel from the clothes line.

As soon as the snake is free, it slides away underneath the chicken house. The children and Opal's mum sit in the shade and find a picture of the snake in a natural science book. It's a puff adder, a snake that puffs up its head in defense to scare its enemies.

This book, illustrated as a traditional Native legend, has a universal appeal in its sensitivity and liveliness of spirit, and the author conveys a feeling of respect for wild creatures without being moralistic.


1. Why do you think Sophie wanted to kill the snake?

2. Are snakes really dangerous?

3. How do you think the children would have felt if they had killed the snake before they had found out it was rare?

4. Have you ever seen a snake around where you live?

5. What kind of environment do snakes need?

6. What wild creatures have you seen around the area where you live?


1. Divide your class into small groups and let each group illustrate the story on a series of large poster boards to use in story telling sessions

2. Let the children take the parts of the various characters in the story and dramatize the story.

3. Take the children on a nature walk around the school to look for any live creatures. If your school is in the city, let them turn over rocks to look for insects such as centipedes and stag beetles. Whatever you find, on your return to the classroom talk about what these creatures need to survive. Discuss what happens eventually to wild life if people kill insects, animals and birds.

from the
Theme Catalogue and Teaching Guide for Children's Books
written for Penumbra Press by Jane Lind
© Jane Lind

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