Toad Rage
by Morris Gleitzmann

Morris Gleitzman is an Australian writer whose books cater mainly to children eight to twelve years old. His writings, though humorous, have dealt with serious issues such as death and AIDS. This story focuses on the issue of hatred through the adventures of a young cane toad, Limpy. It also illustrates the political side of human nature, which is one sad explanation as to why the good or the diligent are sometimes overlooked.

Toads are being killed intentionally by vehicles zooming along the highway each day. Limpy wonders why humans detest toads so much, but his family has no idea. They boil it down to “that’s the way it’s always been”. Such an answer, however, is unsatisfactory and Limpy decides to find out the truth from humans themselves. He learns that the only way to them is to make a daunting journey up north to the gas station where they congregate. Leaving behind the love of his parents and sister, Charm, he undertakes the task on foot.

Upon reaching his destination, Limpy sees other animals and is surprised at how affectionately they are treated by humans. That same treatment however, does not extend to him. He decides that humans will only treat toads well if they become popular, just like the platypus, kookaburra and the echidna. These animals are loved so much that humans even dress up to look like them and make stuffed toys in their likeness. He gets the idea of being a mascot and decides to latch on to a truck heading south, where the Olympic Games are taking place.

Limpy’s quest for popularity is not without its dangers. He gets harassed by teenagers, security guards and even dogs. But some good things too happen along the way. Prey become pals: fruit flies tell him about opportunities at the Olympic Games and a mosquito shows him the way to the stadium. He also gets the surprise companionship of his cousin Goliath, who gets accidentally stuck in the same truck that Limpy is on. Although he does get the coveted mascot role, Limpy finds unexpected stardom through his friendship with an Olympic athlete. His euphoria, however, is short-lived as he realizes that being in the limelight around humans has its own disadvantages.

Limpy’s quest for an answer does not end with this book. He continues his search for how to live in harmony with humans in sequels such as Toad Heaven and the most recent, Toad Surprise

Toad Rage won the Young Australian Best Book Award (Older Readers) in 2001.

P.S – Just a little general knowledge about cane toads: They were first introduced into Australia from Hawaii in 1935 in the hope that they would prey on cane beetles, which were pests to sugar cane plantations. What happened instead was an over-multiplication of cane toads which in turn became a problem to the ecosystem. Cane toads can squirt out a poisonous milky substance when threatened and even its skin is lethal when ingested by most predators.

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