Night of the Spadefoot Toads

Night of the Spadefoot Toads

4.6 3
by Bill Harley
     
 

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When his father takes a new job in Massachusetts, Ben Moroney must leave behind his best friend Tony, a western banded gecko named Lenny, and, worst of all, the Arizona desert home he has loved and explored. Ben unexpectedly finds a kindred spirit in his new fifth-grade science teacher, Mrs. Tibbets. Together they explore the varied habitats on her rural property,

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Overview

When his father takes a new job in Massachusetts, Ben Moroney must leave behind his best friend Tony, a western banded gecko named Lenny, and, worst of all, the Arizona desert home he has loved and explored. Ben unexpectedly finds a kindred spirit in his new fifth-grade science teacher, Mrs. Tibbets. Together they explore the varied habitats on her rural property, where she introduces him to the rare and elusive Eastern spadefoot toads that make their home there.

When Ben discovers that Mrs. Tibbets's land may be sold to developers, he knows he has to do something. But as Ben's obsession with saving the spadefoot toads' habitat grows, his schoolwork and his relationships with his family and new friends suffer. Just when it seems things can't get any worse, Ben finds a way to meet his responsibilities to the people around him and demonstrates the importance of even the smallest efforts to save the earth's rapidly disappearing habitats.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
Ten year old Ben Moroney is not only in a new school, he's what seems like a million miles away from his beloved Sonoran desert in Tucson, Arizona. He doesn't connect with the kids or the Massachusetts rainy spring weather and is miserable. In the science classroom at school, he opens a cage of mice and lets one loose. But his new science teacher, Mrs. Tibbets, doesn't make a fuss and, although she is old, she comes to class wearing hiking boots, which intrigues Ben. Mrs. Kutcher, who teaches the rest of the fifth grade subjects, assigns a geography project where the students must write about an ecosystem. Ben picks the desert, of course. But as he gets to know Mrs. Tibbets, and all she can teach him about Massachusetts wildlife, he has trouble focusing on his desert project. Mrs. Tibbets introduces him to endangered spadefoot frogs, which come out of their homes in the mud only once a year to lay eggs in vernal pools—puddles of water that appear for a short time after heavy spring rains. Ben can't resist checking out the shelter in Mrs. Tibbets's backyard that she had warned him not to go near. He accidentally lets out the two timber rattlesnakes she had living there. Along the way Ben learns how to make friends and how to confess to things he's done wrong. He also convinces Mrs. Tibbets's sister-in-law not to sell all the family land, but instead to preserve the area of the vernal pool. Although some of elements of the story may seem a bit formulaic, this book gives a lot of good information about nature and why we should preserve our environment. The writing is quite good; giving the reader a feeling for place and characters. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan
School Library Journal

Gr 3-6

Fifth-grader Ben Moroney has just moved from Arizona to Massachusetts. While struggling to adjust to his new home, he becomes unlikely friends with his science teacher, Mrs. Tibbets. She introduces the young nature enthusiast to the wildlife inhabiting her rural property, including the fascinating, rarely seen spadefoot toad. Despite his initial loyalty to his previous home, Ben finds himself increasingly interested in his new environment, and when he learns that the spadefoot toad's habitat will soon be sold to developers, he makes it his mission to save the threatened species he has grown to love. This title does not contain the same level of mystery, action, and suspense as Carl Hiassen's Hoot (Knopf, 2002), but the narrative does move along at a quick enough pace to keep the book interesting, and the main character is a well-developed, realistic "child hero." An additional purchase with a positive message that may appeal to readers interested in science and nature.-Melinda Piehler, Sawgrass Elementary School, Sunrise, FL

Kirkus Reviews
Recently relocated to Massachusetts, fifth-grader Ben Moroney is homesick for the desert, lizard and best friend he left behind in Arizona. He feels more at home, however, when he finds a kindred spirit in his eccentric science teacher, Mrs. Tibbets. She shares with Ben a love of amphibians and reptiles and exploring the natural world. Mrs. Tibbets invites Ben to explore with her the natural habitats on her rural property, where she introduces him to the endangered spadefoot toads that inhabit a vernal pool. As they become friends, Ben learns that Mrs. Tibbets recently lost her husband, a well-regarded herpetologist, and that her sister-in-law who lives next door owns the property and plans to sell it to developers. After finding that there is not enough evidence to warrant state protection, Ben uses a school project to convince the sister-in-law to keep the property. Although the outcome is entirely predictable, Harley's appealing story shows readers that adults and children can connect in meaningful friendships, and reminds them that conservation can begin in their own backyards. (Fiction. 9-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781561456383
Publisher:
Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
Publication date:
03/28/2012
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
247,937
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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