Book Review: “Toad Rage” by Morris Gleitzman

Toad rage
Toad Rage

He gazed down at Uncle Roly’s very wide smile and felt his throat sac start to wobble. Why? Why would a car-load of humans purposely kill an uncle who had such a good heart that he was still smiling two nights after being run over by a station wagon and a caravan?

Limpy sighs and limps over to where a car has just flattened a relative. Again. He’ll have to wait for him to dry out before he can carry him home. Limpy is a cane toad trying to understand why people hate cane toads so much. This is a children’s book from the POV of a toad, which amused this 50-something adult reviewing it.

The quirky humor about bugs, reptiles and toads should appeal to certain readers. The chapters are short with a cliffhanger at the end of many of them turning the book into quite a page turner. It mixes humour and drama with some likeable characters.

Limpy the central figure is so named because his leg was run over when he was a small toad. His crook leg makes him go around in circles when he tries to hop too fast. Limpy gets an idea that humans will like cane toads, warts and all, if he could just get them adopted as fluffy mascots like the platypus and echidna.  He worries his little sis-toad, Charm, will be squished as she jumps for tasty insects attracted to car headlights. He goes on an Odyssean quest to a sports event accompanied by Goliath, a none to bright toad, who feels he can stop a car with a mere stick. Limpy’s mission to show humans how nice cane toads really are.

This book deals with a feeling some of us have—a desperate desire to be loved and accepted by those who find us disgusting and despise us. Limpy is surprised to find humans consider toads ugly and go out of their way to squash them on the roads. The book could be a powerful metaphor for larger social dilemmas about inclusion/exclusion of indigenous peoples in Australia when events like the Olympics are staged.

My rating : 4 out of 5

 

 

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