By courtesy of British Council

There was once a boy called Sam. He lived with his mum and dad in a large, low bungalow with a red roof.


It was very, very hot in this country and all the adults used to spend long afternoons asleep.

But Sam never slept. He spent every afternoon in his amazing magical garden with all his animals. Sam was really crazy about animals – he had all the usual pets such as a dog and a cat and a bird, but Sam also had an amazing collection of unusual pets as well.

The garden at the back of the bungalow was a very exciting place. It was surrounded by huge trees at the back and had lush, tropical plants with big leaves on every side. This was perfect for hiding his pets.

When you came out of the back door there was a low wall at the bottom of the steps, which divided the terrace and the garden. Now inside this wall there lived a whole family. Sam came down the steps and pulled out a brick at the bottom of the wall. And there before his eyes was the whole family…. of scorpions.

Sam was terribly interested in scorpions. He thought their red colour was wonderful. And he also liked the way that the baby scorpions climbed onto their mother’s back. Sam didn’t seem to care that scorpions have a sting in their tail – they didn’t seem to notice when he looked at them unless he brought them a few nice juicy insects to eat.

Sam put the brick back in the wall and then walked further along the path which went through the trees. He looked up into a tree. This particular tree had bright red flowers and lots of leaves. But Sam saw something else. He saw the bird who lived in the tree - a bright red and green parrot.
"Hello," said Sam.
"Hello yourself," said the parrot. It really was quite friendly.

Sam continued his round of the garden. At the next tree he stopped again. This tree was much bigger and had very thick branches. Sam stared into the tree.
"Aha!" he said.

Sam saw a long green snake moving slowly round the branch. It was difficult to see the snake as its dark green markings looked just like the tree. But Sam knew where to look. Sam thought it was a pretty friendly snake - he didn't know that green mambas are extremely poisonous.

Sam went further along the path and looked into the next tree. Inside the two main branches he looked very closely. Yes… there it was! Sitting in the fork of the tree was a huge greeny-brown coloured monitor lizard. It had a large head and scales on its back. Its tail thumped the tree and made a noise.'Thwack!' The monitor lizard turned round, closed his eyes and went back to sleep.

Finally Sam turned back towards the house. He stopped at a big rock on the other side of the garden. He lifted the rock carefully. Under the rock was a hole. Sam looked inside. Ah yes … there it was - his pride and joy.. a very large, hairy tarantula! Sam thought it was the most beautiful spider he had ever seen.

Just then his sister Susie came down the steps. Susie was two years older than Sam and always tried to tell him what to do.
"What are you doing?" said Susie. "What have you got there?"
Susie came over to Sam and looked under the rock.
She saw the tarantula and screamed.
"Aagh! It's a spider! Aagh! It's going to kill me!"

When the spider heard Susie screaming it woke up in a very angry mood. It was used to having a nice afternoon nap. The spider ran out of its hole under the rock towards Susie. This made Susie scream even more.
"Help! Mum! Sam's got a spider. Help! It's going to kill us all!"

At this point Sam's mum came rushing out of the house together with Mrs Trout who lived next door. Mrs Trout was a horrible woman who always shouted at Sam and made horrible ugly faces.
"Sam," shouted his mum, "what have you got there?"

By this time the spider had had enough. It decided to look for somewhere more comfortable to sleep. So up the steps it went while everyone else was running around in confusion looking for it.

Just as the spider reached the kitchen door Susie saw it.
"Oh no! It's going into the house!"
They all turned and looked at the door… and saw the spider disappear into the kitchen.

Sam ran up the steps as fast as he could. Inside the kitchen there was total chaos. Archie the dog was barking and running round in circles. Horatio the cat jumped on the table and screamed loudly.

Where was the spider? Sam looked up and saw the spider disappearing into the living room. By this time Susie, his mum and Mrs Trout had also rushed into the kitchen and were screaming their heads off.

Sam decided to get Archie to help. Maybe the dog could find the spider. The two of them walked slowly into the living room and looked around. There was no sign of the spider.

Suddenly they heard more loud screaming from the kitchen. The spider was heading towards Mrs Trout, who took one look and fainted into a heap on the floor.

Now the spider was getting faster. It went upstairs and looked for a comfortable bed to sleep in. Sam followed it with Archie at his heels. At the end of the corridor was Sam's bedroom. They went in and saw the spider sitting next to the window.

That was Sam's chance! He picked up the spider and threw it out of the window, far, far into the garden. Oh well, now it would have a new home in a different part of the garden.

Sam's mum and Susie rushed upstairs.
"You horrible boy!" shouted Susie.
"No, he's not horrible!" said Sam's mum. "He saved us from the spider! Let's go and have some cake!"
Sam laughed and Susie glared at him.
What a good thing they didn't know about Sam's secret zoo!