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Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Hidden Life of a Toad, by Doug Wechsler. Charlesbridge, Random House. 2017. $21.99 ages 6 and up

"Day 20

Tiny tadpoles school
at the edge of the pond.

The water is warm here,
and too shallow for big,
hungry fish.

Tadpoles grow fast in
warm water."

This is exactly the type of book I was looking for when I was teaching science in the early years. It is a book filled with information. It is a day-by-day careful account of the development of the American Toad. Its excellent, full-color photographs are clear and captivating. Every question that might be asked is clearly answered in a format sure to keep readers engaged from start to finish. Even those not particularly interested in the life cycle of a toad will find themselves intrigued by its unwavering design and minimal text.

Each double page spread uses three quarters of its space for the photo. Facing that is text that recounts one day out of 1099 in the life of this particular female. It is a perfect model to use as a mentor text for the presentation of information learned. Science fair project coming up? Kids would do well using this book as a model for gathering data on an appealing subject, or for showing them how to assess and use what they are learning about a chosen interest. It is so important for young scientists to see the positive value that comes from careful observation. The more we know about a subject the more likely we are to care about protecting all creatures.

After all that, Mr. Wechsler uses that same conversational voice for his back matter. A glossary provides pronunciation and direct explanations for the most important words from his text. He explains the difference between frogs and toads, followed by a page of toad facts and another for helping to save toads. He also shares with his readers how he managed to capture his astounding photos.

""Getting wet was part of the job. Toads move in wet weather.
They also pee on you when you pick them up."


"Best of all, the toads are too busy calling, grabbing each other,
and laying eggs to notice my flashlight beam. It's a wonderful
way to enter their hidden world."

Further, there is a list of books to read, and websites to check.

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