✰✰✰✰½ Poetry and natural history are cleverly blended together in this picture book by author Joanne Ryder. The poems follow the life cycle of a toad beginning with the first tadpoles of springtime. As the toadlets grow up, spring rains turn into sleepy summer days. When the days start to turn colder, the toads grow older; their smooth skin becomes bumpy. Soon it's time to prepare for winter hibernation and wait for spring again completing the cycle.
The Bottom Line: I picked this up for my annual poetry fix; April is National Poetry Month after all. I was pleasantly surprised to find that in addition to charming poems, readers are introduced to natural history. The book is divided up by seasons, making it easy to follow the toad's life cycle. Every page of poetry is illustrated with realistic watercolors by Maggie Kneen. Additionally, almost every page contains notes at the bottom with facts about the life of toads. Kids will love the short verses and illustrations; highly recommended for kids in grades 4 & 5.
Details: Toad by the Road: A Year in the Life of These Amazing Amphibians written by Joanne Ryder & illustrated by Maggie Kneen. Hardcover picture book published by Henry Holt and Company in 2007. 40 p. ISBN: 0-8050-7354-X