Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


4 Fines & Flubs for Fall

So there I was. Snoozing in the sunshine. Minding my own business. (It’s tough being Beautiful and Brilliant. But someone’s gotta do it.) Then She Who Must be Obeyed (sort of) skips in with, “Hey Kimmi! I’ve got a great idea!”

Another one?! Insert eye roll here.

“You know those last four books we read?” asks Her Momness, all bright-eyed and chipper. “Two were great. Two were like, Gag me with arugula.”

Yeah. I remember. I was there. (For the reading part. Not the arugula-gagging part.)

Continues Mom: “Instead of doing separate posts on each book, how ’bout we roll ’em all into one post? We can call it 4 Fines & Flubs for Fall! Whaddya think?”

 Don’t say I didn’t warn you, okay? I hate arugula.

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Hop Into Adventure With ‘Summer of the Toad’

Summer of the Toad (2019)

By DM Scharwtz


And what a task it is.

Mr. Toadley Smith of Toad’s Hollow is a “jolly but eccentric man toad with a talent for finding trouble or creating trouble when there was none to be had.” He’s also obsessed with chemicals, experiments, blowing stuff up, and sarcasm. The latter is a thing of beauty.

Toadley reluctantly hires an orphaned mouse named Vernon as a laboratory assistant. Later, Toadley grudgingly deems Vernon a fine mouse when Vernon saves his life. But when the plucky little mouse is kidnapped by the renegade Four Fingered Raccoon clan, Toadley and his lady toad friend, Maria Ponderly, hop off to rescue Vernon.

Their grand adventure includes evading ravenous Hognose snakes who are expert at bureaucratic bumbling (who knew?), escaping bloodthirsty lisping bats, enduring the plucky but inept 99th Royal Fusiliers, and surviving their most hair-raising encounter of all: a human child with grubby fingers and a glass jar.

Hotly pursued by pretty much everyone, Toadley faces a double-challenge during the final climatic battle: He must not only outwit multiple enemies simultaneously, but Toadley must also battle his own shameful secret first. Will the toads’ daring rescue mission succeed or wind up killing them both?

Great green globs of algae!

Public domain

This captivating, imaginative romp features writing that’s jolly and quick. It also has a warm, homespun flavor reminiscent of E.B. White. Generously dosed with wry wit, the prose is clever and colorful. It’s chockful of memorable phrases like, “The moment lingered like a head cold” and “His pride was running a low grade fever.” The plot is redolent with memorable characters like Snidely Axelrod, Grand Theft Otto, Mabel Syrup, T. Benictus Smith, and Finnegan Dawdler the box turtle.

Indeed, the scene in chapter eight in which Toadley acts as his own legal counsel while defending himself and Maria from a bunch of voracious Hognose snakes is worth the price of admission alone. (I laughed so hard!)

But then, all’s fair in ponds and puddles.

Young readers and the young at heart will fall in love with this enchanting story and its loquacious hero as they discover that sometimes a keen wit, an expansive vocabulary and a burlap rucksack are invincible. Or pretty darn close.

Never underestimate a toad. Or this delightful story. I can’t wait for more!

Our Rating: 3.5

Our review first appeared on Reedsy/Discovery.


JUMP Start Your January With These Fine Fiction Titles

Are you or your kids battling the winter blues? If so, check out these Juvenile Fiction and Young Adult titles.

You may not have heard of these books. But they’re all good, solid stories. Even better, they come highly recommended by The Momster and Kimber. (We love historical fiction. But we love well-written juvenile and YA fiction too. That probably means something. Can we get back to you on that?)

Anyway. Grab a hot cuppa. Put your feet up. Stoke up the fireplace or crank up the furnace. Get ready to warm up your winter with these excellent Mom-Tested, Kimber-Approved reads:

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