How I Won the Great Snail Race of Miami-Dade County
(with sincere apologies to Mark Twain)
In the middle of a snail population explosion,
inspired by Mark Twain’s short story,
“The Celebrated Jumping Frog of
Calaveras County,” we planned a snail race.
We thought snail races would be more fun
than frog races…longer to cheer,
longer to observe snail behavior,
and longer to shoot a snail video.
Calaveras County frogs get only three jumps…
Snails take their own sweet time
Keesha’s strategy to win the race
was to choose the largest snail.
Seth just wanted to shoot a snail video
and win an award at the county fair.
Jo planned to lure her snail with lettuce.
Clarence thought his snail would win
if he cheered louder than anybody else.
Clarence didn’t know snails can’t hear.
My strategy was to learn a lot about snails.
I did research. I drew a diagram and
labeled the shell, the foot, and the eye stalks.
I studied hard so I could pick the best snail;
I was sure my snail, Speedy, would win!
On the day of the snail race, we drew
two concentric circles on the tile floor.
Keesha had chosen a gigantic snail.
Jo had her lettuce ready.
We all put our snails in the center circle.
The first snail to leave the outer circle
would win the race. “Go, Speedy!” I whispered.
Seth had just started videoing the race
when Clarence began to cheer.
Even though snails don’t have ears
and can’t hear, they feel
sound wave vibrations
with their lower tentacles…
All the snails retreated into their shells!
“Shhh!” we told Clarence.
Speedy came out of his shell first.
Keesha’s giant snail had decided
never to come out again!
Jo’s snail was moving very slowly
away from the lettuce, leaving a slime trail
as it crawled into the outer circle.
Speedy certainly was fast, but he
couldn’t seem to move in a straight line;
he careened aimlessly around the outer circle,
leaving little silvery squiggles behind him.
Jo’s snail was about to cross the finish line.
Clarence couldn’t keep still any longer
and began cheering again for his snail.
Jo’s snail stopped immediately, just inside
the outer circle, and pulled into its shell.
Speedy was so smart, he finally wandered
outside the circle and won the race.
If you don’t believe me, you can watch
Seth’s video at the county fair.
After the race, we released the snails
far away from vegetable gardens.
Keesha’s giant snail finally came out of its shell.
Clarence apologized for making noise.
We washed the snail slime off our hands
and enjoyed an ice cream party
to celebrate Speedy’s big win.
Maybe someday, I’ll write a story,
“Speedy, the Celebrated Racing Snail
of Miami-Dade County!”
Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia
Inspired by a snail race in a sixth grade science class I taught in Miami. I am considering adding illustrations and developing this into a book for young readers, ages eight to twelve.