The Hidden Life of a Toad

The Hidden Life of a Toad

  • 1799

By: Doug Wechsler

Tadpoles have a secret that only tadpoles know.

In jaw-dropping photos, Doug Wechsler captures the life cycle of the American toad from egg to tadpole to adult. To get these images, Wechsler sat in a pond wearing waders, went out night after night in search of toads, and cut his own glass to make a home aquarium. The resulting photos reveal metamorphosis in extreme close-up as readers have never seen it before.

Budding naturalists will be transfixed by this unprecedented peek into the secrets of tadpole transformation.

Look Inside the Book:

Author & Illustrator Bios:

Doug Wechsler, author

Doug Wechsler is a wildlife biologist, a nature photographer, and the author of more than twenty books for children, including Marvels in the Muck: Life in the Salt Marshes and Frog Heaven: Ecology of a Vernal Pool (Boyds Mills).

Awards & Honors:

Coming Soon!

Editorial Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews, starred review

How do toads develop from fertilized eggs? Do toads need saving? These questions and more are answered in this excellent photo essay that records three years in the life of a female toad. The story is told in easy language accompanied by detailed, intriguing photos that will keep any animal lover engaged. This book will also draw in children (or adults) who may be less immediately interested in the subject, due to its clarity and effective design. Each full-bleed two-page spread includes a large photo taking up three-quarters of the spread and a blue rectangle (placed on the left or the right to vary the layout) with text that describes an important day in the toad's development. Text is generally minimal, but it provides enough information for readers to follow the milestones in the toad's life and to fully appreciate the picture sequence. This book can serve as a model for its type, with its clean layout, appropriate font, sharp photos, and accessible language. Ample backmatter that includes information on toad preservation and how the photographer did his work extends the wonder. A book that encourages observation and conservation and may start some young biologists off on their own lifelong quests to understand animals.

Booklist, starred review

Kids may know the life stages of a toad, but how do those radical changes take place? And what does the animal look like during its transformation from one stage to the next? This clearly illustrated volume offer close-up, color photos of toads as they grow and change, beginning with embryos developing on jelly strands and concluding 1,098 days later with a female toad expelling two long jelly strings laden with eggs soon fertilized by a male. It’s one thing to know that a toadlet has arms, whereas a tadpole does not. It’s quite another to see the arm formed beneath the tadpole’s translucent skin, ready to pop out. On each double-page spread, the succinct, well-focused text appears alongside a large, horizontal photo. Occasionally a label within a picture identifies features mentioned in the text, such as a tadpole’s gills. Wechsler trained as a biologist before becoming a professional wildlife photographer and writer and it shows; the photos and text would interest students at many grade levels, but the short sentences and large type make the book accessible to younger readers. The back matter offers additional information on toads and the photographer’s process. A fascinating look at toad development.

School Library Journal

Biologist and photographer Wechsler’s chronicle of a toad’s journey from embryo all the way to adulthood is insightful. The images—detailed full-color photographs—are everything a budding naturalist could wish for, right down to the warty close-ups. The text, while clearly written and full of intriguing tidbits (for instance, a tadpole hangs out in water too shallow for hungry fish, and the tadpole’s tail is recycled within its body) does lack a certain grace. Still, the content presented is pertinent to the life cycle of amphibians. The book includes a primer on the differences between a frog and a toad, a list of toad facts, and information on conservation efforts. Wechsler also explains how he managed to take the photos. VERDICT Suitable for libraries needing to bolster their early nonfiction collections.

Publishers Weekly

Biologist and photographer Wechsler (Marvels in the Muck) documents the life cycle of a toad, providing crisp images, accompanied by poetic descriptions: "Tiny tadpoles school at the edge of the pond. The water is warm here, and too shallow for big, hungry fish. Tadpoles grow fast in warm water." Wechsler numbers each day of the toads' development, helping readers stay connected to the changes taking place as tails and gills take shape (in one especially striking moment on Day 41, readers see a toad's arm pushing against its translucent skin, ready to burst through). Jumping—toadlike, perhaps—from Day 70 to Day 1097, Wechsler shows how an adult toad mates and the cycle begins anew. Wechsler's images provide a remarkable visual chronicle of an easily overlooked creature, and closing notes leave readers with additional facts about these amphibians.


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ISBN: 978-1-58089-738-9

ISBN: 978-1-63289-575-2 EPUB
ISBN: 978-1-63289-576-9 PDF
For information about purchasing E-books, click here.

Ages: 4-8
Page count: 48
8 1/2 x 9 1/2

Correlated to Common Core State Standards:
English Language Arts-Literacy. Reading Informational. Grade K. Standards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10
English Language Arts-Literacy. Reading Informational. Grade 1. Standards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10

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