Book Review: Toad Delight, by Morris Gleitzman

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_toad_delightToad Delight is the latest adventure in Gleitzman’s series of tales starring Limpy the Cane Toad. Yes, you read that correctly… the Cane Toad. Can a cane toad really be an heroic main character you ask? Do kids really want to read a story about a cane toad? Yes, and yes! Especially when the story is written by one of Australia’s most popular and successful children’s author who knows how to tell an entertaining and engaging story.

Limpy lives in a swamp with his mum, dad, little sister Charm, and cousin Goliath, and he spends his days trying to solve a great mystery – why humans hate cane toads so much that they aim for them on the highways, leaving Limpy busy loyally collecting his squished rellies: ‘Limpy peered more closely at Aunty Sasha in case she was a bit less squashed and a bit less dead than she looked. But Aunty Sasha, who’d loved a chat when she was alive, wasn’t moving a wart or making a sound. Her chatting days, Limpy saw sadly, were behind her. Along with her mouth, which was squished into her own bottom.’

This problem has been Limpy’s mission for a while and it has sent him on several adventures. In Toad Delight, Limpy sets out to rescue a love-sick Goliath (whose girlfriend is an… ‘interesting’ love interest), who has been ‘chosen’ to star in a TV show. When Limpy catches up to the TV crew and sees the crowds gathering to watch the cane toad show he is thrilled – finally humans are becoming cane toad fans! But then he discovers what the show is really about and he has to get Goliath out of there fast.

Written for readers who enjoy a joke or two (or three) Toad Delight draws you into Limpy’s world with plenty of crazy situations and funny characters. Witty dialog abounds with conversations with ants, mosquitoes, goannas, and the venerable Ancient Abigail.
Gleitzman is a master at capturing the personalities and voices of his characters, and in this case, this is done so convincingly that you forget that the book wasn’t, in fact, written by a cane toad. Limpy is a thoughtful, considerate and resourceful cane toad whose desire to help his family subtly delivers an environmental message wrapped within a very funny story.

A junior novel for late primary or early intermediate aged readers, Toad Delight will have them lol-ing and cracking up all over the place. It may also spark an interest in cane toads.

Reviewed by Vanessa Hatley-Owen

Toad Delight
by Morris Gleitzman
Puffin Books
ISBN: 9780143309239

Book review: Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm

This book is in bookstores now.

If there is a child in your life aged between six and 10, you need to get them this beautifully published version of the classic Grimm Brothers fairy tales. Penguin has done a great job with this edition – a cloth cover with heavy gold and silver detailing, beautiful silver end papers, and a mix of original black and white illustrations and a small number of modern day colour plates by wonderful children’s illustrators such as Quentin Blake, Raymond Briggs and Helen Oxenbury.

This is the sort of book I think of as an heirloom, something to keep for the next generation and beyond.

The stories are in the original form (first published in 1823), so the language is slightly dated, but still very readable. The content is as good as ever, and it’s refreshing to reread the stories without the influence of Disney – The Lady and the Lion (aka Beauty and the Beast) is almost unrecognisable.

There is no sugary-sweetness in these stories, and not a lot of happily-ever-afters. The morals are still as relevant today as they would have been at the time the Brothers Grimm collected from their native Germany: work hard, don’t be greedy, be kind and generous, cleverness will usually be rewarded, listen to good advice, keep your promises.

Buy this for someone who loves being read aloud to, but doesn’t mind if there’s not a picture on every page, or who is a confident reader and likes reading to themselves. The stories are a perfect length for bedtime reading, and will be wonderfully familiar to many adult readers.

This is a book to keep and treasure for a long time. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Rachel Moore, a primary school teacher who loves sharing books with her students and revisiting the classics.

Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm
Iintroduced by Cornelia Funke
Published by Puffin Books
ISBN 9780141343075