Saturday, January 20, 2018

Toad Has Talent by Richard Smythe


K - Gr. 2 The forest animals gather for the Moonlight Pond talent contest, but Toad feels he doesn’t “have any amazing
skills or tricks." Digital and watercolor spreads capture the energy of the crowd of creatures that have congregated under
the full moon while Toad finds "the loneliest, most secret corner of the pond" from which to watch the competition. Close-ups
pop from the white page and highlight the animals and their abilities: for instance, Snake’s agility and Duck and her little
ones' teamwork. The text is comprised of a few sentences per page with a delightful variety of verbs. For example, during
their performance, the mice “wiggled, jiggled, bounced and...jumped!” A predictable pattern emerges; Toad admires the other animals, then thinks of all the reasons he can’t do what they have just done. The pacing is perfect as Toad becomes more and more despondent, until he is suddenly noticed. In contrast to the other animals, who are portrayed with color and movement, Toad sits spotlighted in a moonbeam amid blackness. Vignettes depicting Toad as he “slipped and tripped, stumbled and fumbled” adroitly capture the action. This story conveys the message that we all have something to contribute, even if our talents are not the same as others'. It will doubtless be a favorite that is requested often. VERDICT A great choice for a read-aloud, mentor text on action verbs, or guidance lesson on self-esteem and trying new things. Highly recommended.

My review of this book was originally published in the July 2017 issue of School Library Journal, p. 65

Smythe, Richard. Toad Has Talent. illus. by Richard Smythe. 32p. Frances Lincoln. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781786030115

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