144pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99
He’s back!!!! That ugly, poisonous, gentle-hearted cane toad Limpy is back!!! In his fifth adventure just in time to be introduced to a whole new generation of newly independent readers who just want a light-hearted read full of fun about Australia’s public enemy #1.
After doing his usual morning rounds of saying goodbye to his relatives that have been squished flat as a placemat by cars and baked as hard as a pizza in the sun, Limpy goes to check on his cousin Goliath to try to stop him getting himself killed by threatening traffic. But this morning Goliath is not at his normal spot in the swamp sharpening sticks to wave at cars and trucks and yelling obscenities at them – this morning he is sitting on a mound of freshly picked waterlilies, his arm around a penguin-like creature that turns out to be a child’s backpack. And there the trouble begins.
Goliath has fallen in love and when the owner of the backpack takes it away from him, he is so distraught and heart-broken he is determined to find ‘Penny’ again, even if it means venturing into the city. In the meantime, Limpy has decided that the reason that humans don’t like cane toads is because they see them as greedy and mean and he is on his own quest to persuade both his relatives to change their ways and for humans to form a different perception. So when there is an opportunity for the two of them to get to the city, albeit with a camera crew for a television show, they don’t hesitate. What they don’t realise until it is almost too late, is that this television crew is from a culinary show specialising in unusual ingredients and their next big thing is going to be battered cane toad buttocks…
Gleitzman is a master storyteller and it is hard to grasp that the author who introduced us to the sombre story of Felix in the series Once, Now, Then and Soon is also the creator of this crazy, humorous, mad series about a cane toad with a squashed right leg (that predicts the weather) who has delighted readers since we first met him in 1999 in Toad Rage when he tried (and failed) to have cane toads become the mascots for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. Since then, thousands and thousands of children have followed his madcap adventures, always pushing the good side of the species, through Toad Heaven, Toad Away and Toad Surprise. Toad Delight is just as much fun and begs to be shared aloud and read alone but not before a meal. (Perhaps not immediately after it, either.)
With its Olympic theme, now might be a prime opportunity to introduce new audiences to Limpy through Toad Rage and then tantalise them with Toad Delight as the next course.
No child should complete primary school without knowing this endearing little character and his loving rellies.