A deliciously silly story for young middle grade and emerging readers.
It’s a perfectly normal Wednesday for Leo until he steps outside and a toad drops on his head. And, if that isn’t strange enough, the toad appears to be able to fly. Soon the whole town of Upper Dab is overrun with toads – they’re everywhere, destroying the gardens and even taking over the school. Leo and his friend, Rosa, decide to investigate. Where are the toads coming from? Why have they chosen Upper Dab? Unfortunately, Leo and Rosa don’t have much time. They need to find how to get the toads home before the angry residents of Upper Dab implement their own plan to “explode the toads”.
As this brief summary indicates, this is a deliciously silly story for young middle grade and emerging readers. The concept is great fun and we’re gripped from the moment the first toad lands on Leo’s head. This wonderful opening is followed by a series of slightly bizarre but sensational scenes. Young readers are likely to love how the toads take over the school but I personally loved the detail in the descriptions. My favourite is, perhaps, the short interaction between three toads and a squashy-faced cat called Nigel. (Nigel slaps the smallest toad off the bonnet of the car only to find the two bigger toads retaliating, shooting out their tongues to slap Nigel’s ear. Suffice to say he’s sufficiently freaked to run away, fur on end).
There’s a large and inclusive cast of characters with individuals from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds while Rosa is partially deaf. I liked the way that this information is dropped into the story in a casual way with the focus remaining firmly on the quirky adventure.
While the story is fun, it’s actually the illustrations by Becka Moor that really make this book stand out. The characterisation of the people of Upper Dab is fabulous and the pictures of the toads are simply superb. I just loved the flying toads in the opening pages and a group of big fat toads who stare so intently at a character called Plum on page 31 that she looks positively disconcerted. By far the best, however, is the image of two frogs paddling in the tray of beef stew when they break into the school canteen. Wonderful!
As a final point, it’s worth mentioning that this short book (just 68 pages) is from Barrington Stoke and, as such, is deliberately designed to support emergent, reluctant and dyslexic readers through the use of off-white paper and a dyslexia friendly font and layout.
The tone of this story reminded me of the books written by Elen Caldecott. If you enjoyed this, you might, therefore, like to try one of her stories such as How Kirsty Jones Stole The Elephant. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a book that’s as silly as Toad Attack! you might want to try Beards From Outer Space by Gareth P Jones.
Publication date: March 2019
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
Illustrator’s website: Becka Moor