Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Toad has Talent by Richard Smythe

A Picture Book That Can Open Great Discussions

The forest animals are looking forward to the first full moon of the winter. Why? They gather for the Moonlight Pond talent contest. Many have been practicing all year-long for this event. But one animal is feeling low and discouraged. Toad has nothing to contribute. He has no amazing skills or tricks, so he will just feel a bit sorry for himself and keep out of sight.

There is a performance by the Acrobatic Mouse Troupe, a special whirling, looping and hopping act by Snake, and even a balancing act by Duck and her ducklings. Toad is feeling grumpy and envious of everyone.

But as the acts draw to a close, a shout can be heard,
“WAIT!” calls out the snail. “Toad still needs to perform!”

* Spoiler Alert * Since Toad is feeling very nervous and has nothing to contribute to the talent show, he steps forward on the frozen pond to share that he isn’t participating. But as he does, he slips, trips, stumbles, fumbles, cartwheels and . . . ends up winning the competition with his wonderful (accidental) performance.

After winning he discovers that he is just fine being center stage and showing the other animals how to skate. If they have any trouble learning he will say,
“You never know what you can do until you try!”

My Thoughts 

What Concerned Me: I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by this story. We all have talents, even if at times we don’t realize what they are. Too often we think a talent needs to be quite visible. However, being a good listener is definitely a talent yet not often thought of as one. I hate for children to equate talent with such visible acts, although I know many are more visible than listening, having a creative mind, and even thinking outside the box. Many times unseen talents, lead to big opportunities in time.

Ok, I know this was a talent show at a pond, but I hope the reader points out to children the not-so-obvious talents as well.

Bear basically had an accident which led to his twirling over the ice. The other animals had worked a year honing their talents only to lose to a “bear accident.” And the last sentence,
“You never know what you can do until you try!” 
is a great thought, but Toad didn’t try, he spent most of his time feeling sorry for himself. Basically, it took an accident for him to learn he could skate and then proceed to teach the other animals how to skate.

What I Liked Most:  I highly recommend the illustrations and if my "concerns" don't bother you, or you can talk these things through with a child, it's a very cute book.


Approx Words: 504     Ages: 2 - 5     Pages: 32
Author/Illustrator: Richard Smythe
Published by: Frances Lincoln, 2017

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