Night of the Spadefoot Toads
“A riot of sound rises and falls all around them. They’re surrounded by this crazy orchestra – the wind in the trees, the thunder in the sky, the rain pattering on the pool and their jackets, the spring peepers chirping in the distance.
And these little spadefoot toads right before them are leading the symphony.”
About this Story
This satisfying story explores the powerful impact of our actions on the world around us.
When his father takes a new job in Massachusetts, Ben Moroney must leave behind his best friend Tony, a western banded gecko named Lenny, and worst of all, the desert home he has loved and explored.
Ben’s adjustment to his new environment is not going well until he unexpectedly finds a kindred spirit in his eccentric fifth-grade science teacher, Mrs. Tibbets. Together they explore the varied habitats on her rural property, and she introduces him to the elusive and endangered Eastern spadefoot toads that make their home there.
When Ben discovers that Mrs. Tibbets’s relatives plan to sell the land to developers, he knows he must try to stop them. As Ben’s obsession with saving the spadefoot toads’ habitat grows, his schoolwork suffers and his relationships with his family and new friends are strained. One foolish, impulsive act threatens to destroy his friendship with Mrs. Tibbets—and maybe even her career. But just when it seems things can’t get any worse, Ben finds a way to meet his responsibilities to the people around him and learns what it means to feel “at home.”
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers, 2008 | ISBN-13: 978-1-56145-459-4 | Ages: 8-12
Hardcover: 224 pages; Paperback: 192 pages | Also available: ebook
Aligned with the CCSS through the Pearson Social Sciences curriculum adopted by New York, Night of the Spadefoot Toads
will be read by every 5th grader in the system in support of their work with Ecosystems.
- Green Earth Book Award – Newton Marasco Foundation 2009
- KIND Children’s Honorable Mention – Humane Society Youth 2009-10
- Society of School Librarians International Book Awards (honor book, Language Arts K-6 novels) 2009
- Kansas State Reading Circle Recommended Reading List – Kansas National Education Association 2009
- Keystone to Reading Book Award (nominee) – Keystone State Reading Association 2009-10
- Volunteer State Book Awards (nominee) – Tennessee Association of School Librarians 2010-11
- Prairie Pasque Children’s Book Award (nominee) – South Dakota Library Association 2010-11
- Golden Sower Award (nominee) – Nebraska Library Association 2011-12
Saving the rain forests is important, but don’t forget about your own neighborhood. Vernal pools don’t look like much, but they harbor species like the spadefoot toad that are an important part of the web of life. They need our protections, too, and they’re right around the corner, if we take the time to look. Many students around the United States have worked to save vernal pools in their areas. You can, too!
To learn more about vernal pools, check out these resources.
The Frog Book, by Mary Dickerson (Dover). An old but accurate and beautifully written book about all the species of frogs found in the U.S. It’s a classic.
Frog Heaven: Ecology of a Vernal Pool, by Doug Wechsler (Boyds). A great book, especially for students.
Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv (Algonquin Books). A book about the importance of nature in children’s lives.
Vernal Pools: Natural History and Conservation, by Betsy Colburn (MacDonald and Woodward). Everything you ever wondered about when it comes to vernal pools.
ON THE WEB
A search for “vernal pools” or “spadefoot toads” will turn up a wealth of information. And don’t forget to look on YouTube and other video sites for some great videos of kids and adults working to save vernal pools.
The Vernal Pool Association offers resources for students and community people who want to identify and preserve vernal pools.
Information about the vernal pools of Mather Field
Focusing specifically on Californian vernal pools, but there is tons of info about all the other life forms found there.
Info from the Environmental Protection Agency
Identifying and protecting vernal pools in Rhode Island
This will tell you more about the vernal pools that Ben discovered in the book.
The New Mexico Spadefoot Toad (Spea multiplicata) is the official state amphibian.
The Savanna River Ecological Laboratory, University of Georgia
You can find out what the Eastern Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus holbrookii) sounds like.
Animal Life Resource Encyclopedia
A few more details, plus a few specifics about the Plains Spadefoot Toad
A quick overview of spadefoot toads
Info about the Eastern Spadefoot Toad with some great pictures
WHERE YOU LIVE
You can also contact your local nature center or state department of natural resources for more information about vernal pools, amphibians, and other critters in the wild—and in your back yard!