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Friday, July 19, 2013

An Ordinary Toad's Extraordinary Night

An Ordinary Toad's Extraordinary Night by Joanne McGonagle and illustrated by Rachael Mahaffey is an extraordinary children's book with which I fell immediately love upon opening the front cover.

Andrew, a young toad, is going through an ordinary identity crisis--he wishes he could be a frog. After all, they don't have warts, they are a brighter shade of green, and their lithe figures are much more attractive. Andrew heads off to spend an evening with his grandfather, who explores these wishes with him and teaches him to appreciate everything that he does have. Loving who you are is the moral of the story--and it's what makes you extraordinary.

Whether or not I like a children's book depends on the moral of the story being: 1) present, and 2) weaved into the story so that it is not preachy or overwrought. I absolutely adored this story and the character of Andrew. I found him to be absolutely relatable and positively adorable. Everything I love about animal characters is encompassed in this book, and Andrew as protagonist is wonderful and down-to-earth.

Now let's turn to the illustrations. Gorgeous. There was so much care and love put into this book that I found myself squealing while reading. (Yes, a thirtysomething actually let out squeals while reading a children's book.) It's colorful and realistic while being very child-friendly. I much prefer illustrations to photographs in children's books, so this was a win.

A final note for parents and other book-buyers, this book is chock-full of facts on animals. They are intertwined in the story to enhance the narrative while still passing on information about animal habitats and animal characteristics. It's an excellent feature of this book, and I am so happy I picked it up. I am looking forward to giving copies of this book as gifts as the tiny people in my life become merely small people.

For the toddler of any size in your life:

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