cover image A Song for Little Toad

A Song for Little Toad

Vivian French. Candlewick Press (MA), $12.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56402-614-9

This sweet collaboration affectionately demonstrates that-once again-Mother Knows Best. As Old Mother Toad croons a lullaby to her offspring, various creatures suggest that their own versions would prove far more soothing than ``that horrid croaking noise.'' So she tries the goat's baaaaas and the duck's quacks, and she despairs of being able to emulate the nightingale's glorious melody. Little Toad allays her concerns, however, with his request to ``sing me my own song.'' French's (Spider Watching; Lazy Jack, reviewed July 10) gently cadenced prose suits this simple tale, and its lyrical description of the nightingale's music-``he sang of the quiet velvet night, and he sang of the glimmering evening star''-becomes all the lovelier for its unexpectedness. Firth's delicate pencil and watercolor artwork finds elegance in nature, with vines and flowers adorning her illustrations' soft pink borders. At the same time, she injects little notes of comedy-for example, Old Mother Toad sports a crisp white apron while her son is swathed in a ruffled nightcap and spotless white gown. Like Firth's beguiling bruins in Can't You Sleep, Little Bear?, the wide-eyed characters of this bedtime book seem endlessly expressive. Ages 3-up. (Aug.)