Sammy Stevens Sings
Written by Ashley Marks Illustrated by Jeff Burnett
Sammy Stevens Sings
Contents Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter
One . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Two . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Three. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Four. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Five . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Six . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Chapter One The hobblers of Littlewood
Littlewood was a little town in the middle of a little wood, which is how it got its name. At least, everyone thought that was how it got its name, but no one could remember for sure. Littlewood was a little way from everywhere, but not close to anywhere. It was nearly always dark in Littlewood and it rained non-stop. Old-timers told of a time when it had stopped raining for a day, but that was such a long time ago that the story was more of a legend now.
Littlewood was home to the hobblers. They had lived in Littlewood for as long as anyone could remember. They loved Littlewood. They loved the soft rain that pattered down and the velvety murk that was like a warm blanket. You might say that hobblers looked a little strange for they had very large soft brown eyes, pointy ears, and sleek fur on their bodies. They were known as hobblers because when they walked they hobbled along. This strange way of moving was something to do with their egg-shaped bodies and extremely short, stumpy legs.
Even though the hobblers were out of the ordinary and lived in a dark, wet place, they were happy most of the time. The hobblers sang and laughed as they roamed about in the dim light and splished and splashed in the rain. Even in the worst of times, a hobbler could always summon up a song to brighten everyone up.
Chapter Two Sammy Stevens, singer
Sammy Stevens knew about bad times. He was an orphan hobbler. His parents had both been whooshed away by a terrible storm – the likes of which Littlewood had never seen before or since – when Sammy was only 99 hobbler years old. He still had wonderful memories of his parents singing and laughing. He had stored those memories in his head for when things weren’t going his way.
Sammy, like most hobblers, loved to sing. Only, with Sammy, singing was more of an obsession. Sammy sang whenever he wasnâ€™t sleeping. His grandfather, Garth, claimed he also sang in his sleep. Sammy had a beautiful voice. Other hobblers said that even when Sammy snored it sounded like song.
All the hobblers in Littlewood loved Sammyâ€™s singing. Every fifth night they went to hear him sing on the super sound stage. When Sammy finished his show, the hobblers would cheer and clap and demand another number. Sammy would be quite worn out every fifth night. But he loved singing for the Littlewood hobblers on the super sound stage. He never missed a night.
Sometimes when he sang, Sammy scared the hobblers. You see, Sammy could sing so high he toppled trees. He could sing so low he shook the ground. Sometimes, when the ground shook and the trees fell, the hobblers imagined a herd of giants coming to Littlewood, trampling and tearing the trees. Then they would hobble away and hide until Sammy started to sing another song.
Since the day that Sammy’s parents had been whooshed away, Sammy’s grandfather had looked after him. Garth was a sprightly hobbler who seemed much younger than his 270 hobbler years. He spent a great deal of time with Sammy, so it was as if Sammy had a grandfather, a father, and a friend all rolled into one. One of the things Garth loved to do was to tell Sammy stories. Garth’s stories were fun and they always had a twist at the end or a little lesson for Sammy to learn.
Chapter Three The Bestwood singing competition
One day, Garth came back from a visit to the town of Bestwood. Bestwood had been created by Marvel, a powerful sorcerer. She had given Bestwood the best of everything, including the best weather â€“ if you liked sunshine. No hobbler liked or trusted Marvel. She was known for mysteriously appearing in Littlewood, sometimes in disguise, then equally mysteriously disappearing. No one knew exactly when she was in Littlewood or what she did when there, which made her presence all the more suspicious.
“They’re having a singing competition in Bestwood,” Garth told Sammy. “They want to find the next singing star. You should enter.” “Do you really think so?” asked Sammy. “No one has ever beaten a singer from Bestwood. In fact, Glorious Gloria Groovy Gums always seems to win. Besides, Marvel is bound to be involved. I think I’d rather just sing for the hobblers as I do now.”
“You’re a seriously good singer,” replied Garth. “You can win this competition.” So Sammy sang even more often than he usually did. In fact, he hardly spoke anymore. When he had a conversation with Garth or any of his friends, he sang his replies. He sang and sang and sang. Soon the news spread and the whole of Littlewood knew that Sammy was entering the Bestwood singing superstar competition. Everywhere he went, the hobblers called out words of encouragement. “You’re going to win and be a superstar singer, Sammy,” a young hobbler said. “Beat Bestwood and put Littlewood on the map, Sammy,” an old hobbler said.
Chapter Four The sound of silence
Three days out from the competition, Sammy was just beginning to think he might be in with a chance when something very strange occurred. Sammy opened his mouth wide to let out a sweet high note in the middle of a conversation with Garth and not a sound came out. Nothing. Sammy tried again. Still nothing. A bird stood on the window ledge singing sweetly, but Sammy couldn’t make a sound. “A few nerves, eh, Sammy?” said Garth, trying not to show his concern. Sammy gulped.
“Why don’t you take the whole day off? Don’t sing a note today. By the time the competition comes around, I’m sure your voice will be back to normal. Don’t you worry about a thing.” Garth made Sammy his special soothing syrup. Sammy took several doses. The next morning when he woke up, he let out a deep sonorous sigh. His voice was back and better than ever. Sammy was delighted. Garth must have been right; it must have been nerves that had made him lose his voice. Sammy practised and practised. The next day, Sammy woke to the sound of the bird singing on the window ledge. It reminded him that the competition was the day after tomorrow. In the meantime, he planned to use every moment preparing. Only trouble was, when Sammy settled down to sing, he found he could only miaow. He could speak normally, but whenever he tried to sing he sounded like a cat. He rushed to find Garth, panic written all over his face. “Not to worry, Sammy. I’ll whip up a super sluicing tonic. It should fix you.”
And so it did. Sammy was able to sing once again. He sang beautifully all day, and all night in his sleep as the rain softly fell. The next day was the day before the big event. Sammy was nervous and excited. However, when he began his morning singing ritual, he found he couldnâ€™t open his mouth at all. It was as if his lips were glued together. The bird chirruped and preened on the window ledge, but Sammy could only stare at it in silence.
Garth spent the morning making easing ear drops for Sammy, which would fix the problem with his mouth. There was no other way to take medicine, after all. While the drops were brewing, Garth threw some crumbs out for the bird that had taken to sitting on Sammyâ€™s window ledge. They watched the bird pick at the crumbs until they were all gone. By then, the ear drops were ready. No sooner had Garth dropped them into Sammyâ€™s ears than his mouth was wide open and he was singing more beautifully than either of them had ever imagined he could. His voice just seemed to get better and better.
Chapter Five Sammy sings his heart out
Sammy sang all day without stopping. That night he slept like a baby. He woke in the morning a bundle of nerves for it was competition day. It was a beautiful day, dark with a soft drizzle. The hobblers were so excited that they all came out to see Sammy and Garth as they left for Bestwood and the singing contest. Sammy was very proud. He sang for the hobblers as they passed by.
When the hobblers arrived, the other singers were warming up. The stage looked magnificent. There was a big crowd. Everything was ready for a great contest. When the time came, the singers did their performances one by one. Strangely, Gloria Groovy Gums was missing. It was unlike her to miss a chance such as this, and everyone wondered where she was. Sammy was the last to sing. â€œJust give it your best,â€? said Garth, giving Sammy a quick hug.
And Sammy gave it his best. He sang sweet soul. He played pop. He rock-and-rolled. He hip-hopped and bopped. He sang high and he sang low. He sang soft and he sang loud. In fact, Sammy put on a super show. When he finished, the crowd went wild. They cheered and cheered, and clapped and stomped their feet. Sammy smiled. He knew he had won. Garth smiled, too. The other singers had been good, but not as good as Sammy. Without Gloria Groovy Gums in the picture no one had really come close to Sammy. Now Littlewood would be on the map once and for all.
Chapter Six Garth reveals all
Then the chief judge stood up. The crowd was silent. “The winner is Sammy Stevens from Littlewood!” she said. Again, the crowd went wild. Sammy took a bow. He was so happy that tears rolled down his round cheeks. “I wanted to win so much,” he sobbed, “and I did! I worked so hard, and I won. I can’t believe I was the best.” Garth hugged Sammy again. “You were great,” Garth said. “You sang better than you ever have before.”
“What do you think happened to Glorious Gloria Groovy Gums?” asked Sammy. “Everyone was expecting her to win the competition again.” “I don’t think we’ll be seeing much of Gloria again, Sammy,” said Garth. “A little bird told me that she was leaving town,” he added with a wink. “What do you mean?” asked Sammy. “Sammy, do you remember that little bird that kept coming and sitting on your window ledge each morning? Well, that was actually none other than Marvel. She was casting spells on you that affected your voice. She knew you had real talent and she didn’t want you to win. She wanted that honour for herself.” “But Marvel never entered the contests,” said Sammy, puzzled. “Oh, yes, she did. Why do you think Gloria had such perfect pitch? How do you think she sang so sublimely? She was just too good to be true. She was Marvel. Marvel couldn’t enter the contest as herself. No one would allow a sorcerer to take part in a contest. A sorcerer is not to be trusted, and Marvel proved that by becoming Gloria Groovy Gums in order to win the contest year after year.”
“But where is Marvel?” “That’s the best bit. When I was making your ear drops, I threw out some Never Change crumbs. That bird ate them all. Marvel will stay a bird forever and she won’t be able to use her magic.” Sammy’s smile spread. “So, if you keep practising your tree-toppling high notes and earth-rumbling bottom notes, you may hold the title next year, too,” added Garth with a grin. Sammy said nothing; he just hummed a little tune. 32