The Hidden Life of a Toad
by Doug Wechsler

Price at time of review: $17.99
48 pp.
Charlesbridge Publishing
Watertown, MA
ISBN: 9781580897389

Grade Level: K-3

Reviewed by Deborah Stevens

Doug Wechsler’s children’s book, The Hidden Life of a Toad is lovely. The author is a photographer and the graphics are compelling. The book describes the life cycle of toads. Life cycles is an important concept in early elementary science. Typically, kindergarten and first grade classrooms study butterflies but why not substitute toads?

Wechsler removed toad embryos from a nearby pond to study and photograph at home. Teachers can take embryos from local ponds for classroom study, too. The Hidden Life of a Toad is so detailed, the teacher can use this book for reference as the tadpoles develop. The book answers the questions curious children want to know. What are the long ribbons of black eggs in ponds? Embryos! (Day 1). How do they breathe? Gills (Day 9) and lungs(Day 45). What do they eat (Day 70)? Wechsler did his homework; the book contains an updated taxonomy under Toad Facts at the end of the book. Toad answers a question I had. How do toads survive the winter? They burrow into the mud over the winter (Day70). The photos are clearly labeled, such as the vocal sac (Day 1097 opposite Brrrrrr!). At the end of the book is a glossary and comparison between frogs and toads (What’s the difference between a frog and a toad?) Additionally, at the back are Toad Facts, Saving Toads (Toad Detour), an explanation how Wechsler got the photos, and a resource page.

I read The Hidden Life of a Toad to my favorite six year old, Paul, who is a big fiction fan. Nonfiction? Not so much. He was engrossed; high praise from any child. The Hidden Like of a Toad and its lavish photos is perfect for the early elementary classroom and any library. My copy is promised to Paul’s school library.

Review posted on 12/16/2016

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