How I love me a good ecological book! We're all about saving the planet here in the Snow household and thus when I get my hands on a book that has environmental aspects to it, especially for kids, I shout it out to all of you!
Night of the Spadefoot Toads is written by Bill Harley and though blessed with a rather unique title, really a great example of a subtle way of explaining to middle graders how important saving our environment is, for both humans AND animals.
Ben Moroney, our main character, has just moved with his family to Massachusetts from Arizona, having to start fifth grade in a new town he has no interest in being in. Ben loved the desert, loved studying the wildlife that existed in it and enjoyed the local museums that allowed him to stare at snakes all day long. He hates the cold rainy lifestyle in Massachusetts and worries that he will never make real friends at school, eventually finding an unlikely friend in Mrs. Tibbet's one of his teachers. She invites him onto her property, exploring habitats with him, and introducing him to the Eastern Spadefoot toads, a local endangered species.
Ben finds out the Mrs. Tibbet's house is set to be sold to land developer's and he is determined to try and stop them, wanting to save the habitat of the toads, all while trying to make friends his age and dealing with the loss of his Arizona life.
Harley's book is a great stepping stone to conversations with kids about saving the earth and that it doesn't necessarily need to just be done by adults, but really can be started right at home. Ben was a likable character with realistic feelings about moving across the country and wanting to do the right thing all the time, but sometimes slipping up. This would be a very nice selection for libraries...use it on your Earth Day display!
Also includes some additional resources for "Toad Lovers and Vernal Pool Savers."
To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.
Night of the Spadefoot Toads
Middle grade fiction