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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dont Touch That Toad, written by Catherine Rondina and illustrated by Kevin Sylvester. Kids Can, 2010. $14.95 ages 8 and up

"Don't be a drip, Mom - it's not true. When it comes to avoiding a cold, it's more important to wash your hands than it is to dry your wet hair. A cold is actually a virus, and viruses don't care if your hair is wet or dry, or it's hot or cold outside. You can catch a cold only from direct contact with someone who already has one. Doctors believe that colds are more common in the winter not because of the temperature, but because we tend to stay inside for longer periods of time, where germs breed all around us."

This was an argument my Mom and I had until the day she died; and we laughed about it all the time. I often didn't take the time to dry my hair before heading off to do whatever I needed to do that day. If Mom saw me with wet hair, she shook her finger and told me I was going to get sick....and I was sixty years old! She had a number of other 'old mother tales' in her repertoire and some of them are included here. The title sure got my attention and I know it will do the same for its intended audience. We all want written proof that what our parents have been telling us over and over again is not likely 'the real deal'.

After a very brief introduction the author divides her book into four sections which deal with health, science, food and animals. She also includes an appendix of 'parentisms' at the end that might evoke other memories you have from childhood or that you are creating for your own children. I wonder if anyone knows the origin of most of them. In the front sections, Catherine Rondina provides reasoning, and often research, to explain why these things have become part of our conversation and gives each a rating...true, false or you decide given the facts. The 'you decide' should make for some great discussion and perhaps some additional research.  For instance:

"Animals can predict natural disasters.

During the horrible tsunami that struck Southeast Asia on December 26, 2004, more than two hundred thousand people died, but many animals survived. Although it's not scientifically proven, many people believe that the animals had some sort of early warning that the storm was coming."

What do you think? What have you noticed about animals and weather?

I like the writing style. It offers up the 'strange thing' and then provides quick, positive comments about it. The accompanying pen-and-ink drawings keep the tone light and humorous. If you are thinking about a gift for the inquisitive child, this might be just the ticket.

How many of these have you heard, and what memories do they evoke?

"Always wear clean underwear, in case you get in an accident.

If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

When I was your age, I had to walk 10 miles through the snow to get to school."

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