Day 27, book 27: Toads on Toast by Linda Bailey

There’s nothing better than a good breakfast. I can celebrate any meal of the day, but breakfast is perhaps the best. All breakfast lovers have their perfect brekkie. Mine is a sit-down, knife and fork, sausage and eggs and toast and jam and roasted tomato and bottomless coffee, kind of breakfast. Recently I had all that with sautéed mushrooms and some delish maple baked beans too. Now that was a breakfast.

My ideal breakfast does not involve toads. EVER.

Linda Bailey’s new picture book, Toads on Toast, should make readers consider branching out into new breakfast territory, away from Rice Krispies and PB on toast and oatmeal, all the way to something they might never have considered before: Toad in the Hole.

Fox is tired of his usual recipe repertoire: “Catch a big fat toad. Bring it home. Skin it. Boil it. Eat it.” He needs a change. He finds inspiration at the cookbook store, in their extensive toad section. Apparently small, young, tender toads are where it’s at. One night, he captures some toadlets and brings them home. Just when things are about to get messy, Mamma toad arrives to save her babies and put a stop to Fox’s terrible plan. Mamma teaches Fox a secret family recipe for, you guessed it, Toad in a Hole. At first Fox is skeptical, but in the end, everything turns out deliciously. The book finishes off with a do-it-at-home recipe for Toad in a Hole (no toad required).

I am crazy about the cover. Colin Jack got it absolutely right with this image. Each one of the toadlets has a different expression, from pleading to clueless to terrified. The little details are really funny – one toad’s buck teeth, another’s wee baseball cap, and the bow in one girl toad’s hair. You know just by looking that the story is going to get you laughing. Kids will be hooting before they even make it to the first page, for sure. Those hilarious details continue throughout, particularly when Mamma toad arrives and all the little ones start creating chaos in Fox’s kitchen (buttery food fights, cupboard climbing using pieces of licorice tied together, using a gravy boat for a slide…).

Linda Bailey makes this one just as funny and sweet and kid friendly as her beloved Stanley books. Who knew toads could be so cute? I think I’ve mentioned before that a book gets immediate bonus points for me when it includes a recipe (or a whole stack of them). I like what the story suggests about the power of food to make friends of characters you’d never think could get along, let alone share a meal.

Toads on Toast is a delightfully silly, culinary romp that should, like all the best dishes, get better and better the more times it’s enjoyed. Best served with breakfast.

A final word on the glories of breakfast. Any breakfast fan should pop over to simply breakfast, the beautiful photography blog all about savouring the morning meal.

Toads on Toast is published by Kids Can Press.

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