cover image Mister Toad

Mister Toad

Clyde Watson, Ronald Ed. Watson. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $13.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-02-792527-2

Staid Mr. Toad's tranquil home in a garden wall is disturbed by the simultaneous arrival of an inquisitive cat and a swarm of bees. How he pits one invader against another and regains possession of his house provides the plot for this tepid work by a pair of sisters. The tale possesses an adult sensibility: Mr. Toad's concerns and preoccupations are hardly those of most children. Clyde Watson's ( Father Fox's Penny rhymes ; Valentine Foxes ) heavy-handed prose is marred by a tendency to tell rather than to show, attempts at quaint, Down East diction and an over-reliance on verbs other than ``say.'' (Characters variously mutter, croak, announce, murmur and sigh their lines.) For the astute young reader, the book's inevitable conclusion will become obvious a good many words before the actual denouement. N. Cameron Watson's ( The Little Pigs' First Cookbook ; The Little Pigs' Puppet Book ) watercolors, in rather insipid floral hues, appear somewhat flat and static, with erratic shifts in scale. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)