FICTION

The Toad

illus. by Elise Gravel. 32p. (Disgusting Creatures). Tundra. Jul. 2016. Tr $10.99. ISBN 9781770496675.
COPY ISBN
Gr 1–3—The latest addition to the series, in which Gravel uses her obvious passion for seemingly unlovable creatures to excite the curiosity of young readers. The text conveys age-appropriate information about the physical attributes of toads: general traits such as their long tongues and warts, which act as form of camouflage, and the particularities of specific species, such as the Emei mustache toad and the Venezuela pebble toad (though the protagonist of this book is the common toad). Gravel discusses habitats, ecological impact, and life cycle from egg to maturity. The female pronoun is used for the main character toad, though, thankfully, she is only given eyelashes and pink lips when she declares that her warts are her "beauty spots"—and the fertilization of the eggs is not discussed. What sets this book apart from other early readers is the engaging humor. Gravel's cartoonish illustrations will keep children involved with the material and the important environmental message. However, the call to action would have benefitted from a specific example of how young people can keep the environment healthy for our amphibian friends. In addition, the use of Spanish phrases, such as a frog bidding readers "Hasta la vista," may exasperate native Spanish-speakers.
VERDICT For fans of the series or collections looking to add a bit of humor.

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