Having surveyed worms, spiders, flies, and head lice, Gravel continues her Disgusting Critters series with a quick hop through toad fact and fancy.
The facts are briefly presented in a hand-lettered–style typeface frequently interrupted by visually emphatic interjections (“TOXIN,” “PREY,” “EWWW!”). These are, as usual, paired to simply drawn cartoons with comments and punch lines in dialogue balloons. After casting glances at the common South American ancestor of frogs and toads, and at such exotic species as the Emei mustache toad (“Hey ladies!”), Gravel focuses on the common toad, Bufo bufo. Using feminine pronouns throughout, she describes diet and egg-laying, defense mechanisms, “warts,” development from tadpole to adult, and of course how toads shed and eat their skins. Noting that global warming and habitat destruction have rendered some species endangered or extinct, she closes with a plea and, harking back to those South American origins, an image of an outsized toad, arm in arm with a dark-skinned lad (in a track suit), waving goodbye: “Hasta la vista!”
A light dose of natural history, with occasional “EWWW!” for flavor. (Informational picture book. 5-7)