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  • Toad Rage
  • Written by Morris Gleitzman
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780375827631
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  • Toad Rage
  • Written by Morris Gleitzman
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307548153
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Toad Rage

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Written by Morris GleitzmanAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Morris Gleitzman

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List Price: $6.99

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On Sale: December 18, 2008
Pages: 176 | ISBN: 978-0-307-54815-3
Published by : Random House Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Limpy’s family reckons humans don’t hate cane toads, but Limpy knows otherwise. He’s spotted the signs: the cross looks, the unkind comments, the way they squash cane toads with their cars. Limpy is desperate to save his species from ending up as pancakes. Somehow he must make humans see how fabulous cane toads really are. Risking everything, he sets off on a wart-tinglingly dangerous and daring journey to . . . the Olympics?

This is the epic story of a slightly squashed young cane toad’s quest for the truth.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

“Uncle Bart,” said Limpy. “Why do humans hate us?”

Uncle Bart looked down at Limpy and smiled fondly.

“Stack me, Limpy,” he chuckled, “you are an idiot.”

Limpy felt his warts prickle with indignation as Uncle Bart hopped onto the road after a bull ant.

No wonder I’ve never heard any other cane toad ask that question, thought Limpy, if that’s the reply you get.

Limpy was glad the grass at the edge of the highway was taller than he was. At least the millions of insects flying around the railway crossing light couldn’t see who Uncle Bart was calling an idiot.

“Humans don’t hate us,” Uncle Bart was saying, his mouth full of bull ant and grasshopper. “What are you on about? Stack me, some of the dopey ideas you youngsters come up with…”

Limpy waited patiently for Uncle Bart to finish. Uncle Bart was his fattest uncle, and his bossiest. When Uncle Bart had a point to make, he liked to keep on making it until you gave in and looked convinced.

Tonight, though, Limpy didn’t give in.

He didn’t have to. When Uncle Bart was getting his mucus in a knot about how humans definitely didn’t hate cane toads, a truck came roaring round the corner in a blaze of lights, straightened up, rumbled through the railway crossing, swerved across the road straight at Uncle Bart, and drove over him.

Limpy trembled in the grass while the truck thundered past in a cloud of diesel fumes and flying grit. Then he hopped onto the road and looked down at what was left of Uncle Bart.

The light overhead was very bright because it had a whole railway crossing to illuminate, and Limpy was able to see very clearly that Uncle Bart wasn’t his fattest uncle anymore.

Flattest, more like, he thought sadly.

“See,” he said quietly to Uncle Bart. “That’s what I’m on about.”

“Har har har,” chortled a nearby grasshopper. “Your uncle’s a place mat. Serves him right.”

Limpy ignored the grasshopper and turned to watch the truck speeding away into the darkness. From the movement of its taillights he could tell it was weaving from side to side. Each time it weaved, he heard the distant “pop” of another relative being run over.

“Yay,” shouted the grasshopper. “More place mats.”

Limpy sighed.

He decided not to eat the grasshopper. Mum was always warning him he’d get a bellyache if he ate when he was upset or angry.

To take his mind off Uncle Bart, Limpy crossed the road to have a look at Uncle Roly.

Uncle Roly was extremely flat too, but at least he was smiling.
Which is what you’d expect, thought Limpy sadly, from your kindest uncle, even when he has been dead for two nights.

Limpy reached forward and gently prodded Uncle Roly. He was dry and stiff. The hot Queensland sun had done its job.

Limpy remembered how Uncle Roly had never been dry and stiff when he was alive. He’d always had a warm smile for everyone, even the family of holidaymakers two evenings ago who’d purposely aimed their car straight for him down the wrong side of the road.

“Oh, Uncle Roly,” whispered Limpy. “Couldn’t you see the way they were looking at you?”

Limpy shuddered as he remembered the scary expressions on the holidaymakers’ faces. It was exactly the same look of hatred that had been on the face of the truck driver who’d tried to kill Limpy when he was little.

I was lucky, thought Limpy sadly. When it happened to me, I’d only just finished being a tadpole. I had a pair of brand-new legs and I could hop almost completely out of the way. I only got one leg a bit squashed. Poor old Uncle Roly was completely flat before he knew what hit him.

Limpy felt his crook leg start to ache, as it often did when he was sad and stressed. He gazed down at Uncle Roly’s very wide smile and felt his throat sac start to wobble.

Why?

Why would a carload of humans purposely kill an uncle who had such a good heart that he was still smiling two nights after being run over by a station wagon and a caravan?

I don’t get it, thought Limpy. I can understand why grasshoppers and other insects don’t like us. It’s because we eat them. But we don’t eat humans. We cant even fit them into our mouths. So why do they hate us?

Limpy felt his warts tingle with determination.

One day, he thought, I’ll go to a human place and find out why and try to do something about it, even if I end up dry and stiff and flat myself.

The thought made him feel weak and sick.

“Time to go home, Uncle Roly,” he said.

Limpy picked Uncle Roly up, heaved him onto his shoulders, and hopped slowly back across the road to Uncle Bart.

“Bye, Uncle Bart,” said Limpy to the damp layer of pressed skin and flat warts on the tarmac. “I’ll be back for you when you’ve dried out.”

He wondered if he’d find the courage to visit the humans before he saw Uncle Bart again.

I need to get braver, he thought. But how?

“Rack off, place mat,” yelled the grasshopper.

Ignoring all thoughts of bellyache, Limpy ate him.

Practice, thought Limpy as he chewed, that’s how.

Chapter 2

“Oh no, Limpy,” said Mum in exasperation. “You haven’t brought home another dead relative.”

Limpy was too puffed to answer. Although the swamp where he lived wasn’t very far from the highway, it was still a long haul for a skinny toad with a crook leg and a dried uncle on his back.

“Well, just don’t leave him lying around in your room, said Mum. “That room’s a pigsty. I’m sick of tidying up dead relatives in there.”

“Mum,” said Limpy. “Uncle Roly’s your brother. Don’t you care that he’s been run over?”

Mum gave a big sign and leaned against the leaf she’d been preparing dinner on. She put down to ants she’d been stuffing slugs with and closed her eyes.

When she opened them, Limpy could see her throad sac was trembling.

“Oh, Limpy,” she said quietly. “Of course I care. But I’ve got hundreds of brothers and sisters. If I let myself get upset every time one of them’s run over, I’ll be a nervous wreck.”
Morris Gleitzman

About Morris Gleitzman

Morris Gleitzman - Toad Rage

Photo © Martin Slater

"Lots of things [inspire me]. The knowledge that somebody I've never met somewhere I've never been can read one of my stories and laugh and cry at the same things as me. The experience of being inside a character who can be braver, funnier, wiser, sillier, naughtier, more determined, more creative and more loving than I'm usually able to be."--Morris Gleitzman

Morris Gleitzman is the author of many children's books, including Toad Rage and its sequels. He lives in Australia.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I can't remember much of my childhood. Just the best bits (books, corned beef and scoring goals) and the worst bits (sties, rhubarb and a stiff hamster). And the birthday morning I ran joyfully into the living room, tripped over my presents and sprained my elbow.

The rest is blank pages. Family records (Mum's photo albums) tell me I was born in 1953 in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, England, and that we moved south when I was two. Later photos show I grew up normally with my younger brother and sister in the suburbs of London. Though one snap of me with a manic grin and a tea cosy on my head suggests that at some point I may have been kidnapped by alien spacecraft and experienced over-excitement and memory loss.

I read every book I could get my hands on. Classics, westerns, Enid Blyton, soccer star biographies, Richmal Crompton's William series (my favourites) and recipe books (particularly the corned beef sections).

Then, in 1969, we emigrated to Australia. It was a big change. The heat, the flies and the completely different tinned meats. The shock was so great I stopped reading books for nearly a year. When I started again I found I wanted to write as well.

I also wanted to eat, so I did a course called Professional Writing. By the time I graduated I knew how to write everything from journalism to the jokes on the back of cornflakes packets. What I didn't know was how to write my own stories.

That came much later. Ten years later. Eighty million comedy scripts for TV later. When, slowly, I began to write a script that was quite different. A drama about a boy called Ben who sees the world differently to his family and friends and nearly drives them all bonkers.

While the film was being made, a publisher gave me the chance to convert the script into a book. I was terrified. What did I know about writing a book? But I cared too much about Ben to chicken out so I gave it a go and The Other Facts of Life was the result.

People seemed to like it. I certainly liked writing it. I discovered you can get closer to a character's thoughts and feelings in a book than in a film. I also discovered that, even though I couldn't remember much about my childhood, Ben's thoughts and feelings felt like they were also mine. I'd never, I was almost certain, shaved my head or chained myself to a tennis net or tried to set two thousand chickens free, but I knew exactly how Ben felt doing those things.

That's when I fell in love with writing books. I've written lots since. And I've discovered that, for me, telling stories involves filling blank pages in more ways than one.

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