Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

Jennifer Murdley’s Toad

Posted by nliakos on June 13, 2006

by Bruce Coville. Minstrel (Pocket), 1993.

One of four books in the author's "Magic Shop" series, this novel tells the story of a kind but homely girl, the victim of bullying by her peers, who is given a magical talking toad named Bufo. Things become more complex when Bufo kisses Sharra, Jennifer's principal tormenter, thus turning her into a toad as well. From then on, whomever the "new" toad kisses turns into a toad, while the kissing toad reverts back to human form (except Bufo, who is a real toad, despite the fact that he can talk, and remains a toad). However, if one stays a toad for more than ten hours, the transformation is permanent, lending a certain tension to the situation. Before the book ends, Jennifer has to make some difficult decisions which require her to think about the kind of person (or toad) she truly is, and wants to be.

My daughter Vicki read this book to me. I enjoyed it, albeit not as much as I enjoyed another in the same series, Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher. It has some very funny moments, and Vicki and I had some good laughs while reading it. At the same time, it includes some serious subject matter: the issue of bullying, and the value of physical beauty.

Favorite quote: "Hey!" yelled Brandon (Jennifer's 4-year-old brother). "How come you get to eat bugs? Everyone yells when I do it."

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