2 out of 4 stars
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Toad by NERJ was certainly not what I expected when I picked up this book. At first, I was a little uncertain, as the cover was not particularly designed to my liking. Of course, everyone says not to judge a book by its cover, so onward I went.
The story begins with Aimee, a young duchess. To me, she was an odd mix of Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the Evil Queen from Snow White. Nothing was good enough for her, not even herself. She felt that she needed to be the prettiest and best in all the land. She actively shunned those who did not meet her standards and tried to be come prettier than everyone else. However, instead of becoming prettier, she was turned into a toad! Even worse, she is stuck with Oink, a raggedy stranger she would normally detest that was also turned into a toad. They need to work together to avoid a slew of dangers and become human again. Can Aimee look past what is on the surface to work with Oink? Will she learn to appreciate others and their differences?
I quite liked the adventurous storyline in this book. It was entertaining enough to keep me going, and I wanted to see what happened next. However, my favorite part of the book was the French words scattered throughout. I was not expecting to learn elementary-level French when I picked up this book, but I was pleasantly surprised! At times, NERJ would present a word and explain it, so I didn't even need to use context clues or a dictionary to figure it out.
Unfortunately, my least favorite part of the story was the grammatical errors. I encountered these from the first page, which I did not enjoy at all. I had to put the book down a few times so I could re-focus and not notice them. I must note at this time that the author is actually a pen name and combines the first initials of four siblings. When I delved into this, I learned that they did not grow up in the United States, so some of these errors can be expected. That said, I would recommend them employing a professional editor to assist in their writing.
Another negative, in my eyes, what that the authors pulled me into a story and then pulled me out. For instance, in the beginning, they start to introduce readers to Aimee, but then say, "Enough about Aimee now. Let's get back to the story." Then, the authors go back to Aimee anyway, just in a different context.
Overall, considering the above and my general liking of the book, I have to rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. It was a good book, but it needs some work, hence my rating of a two. That said, I thought the story was perfect for children, which is why I would recommend it to parents with children and teachers. There is much that can be learned from this book. Children can be taught to not take things for granted, to help others, and appreciate and respect people and things.
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