Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Toad

As a writer, every time I buy a book, I'm aware that I'm buying someone's baby, someone's lifework. If I get halfway through it and realize the book isn't my cup of tea, I still finish the book until the end, because someone's heart, blood, and soul went into making these words. I can appreciate it.

I don't feel bound to finish the series the book was in, but I always make sure I finish the book. With one exception.

Jennifer Murdley's Toad

I read--or rather attempted to read--Jennifer Murdley's Toad when I was in the second or third grade. I had read a few other Bruce Coville books and thought surely this one would be awesome, just like Goblins in the Castle, which I had absolutely loved. However, a few chapters into Jennifer Murdley's Toad, and I wanted to throw the book across the room. Now, years later, all I can remember was that it was about a talking toad, and that I hated it. So even though I had not finished the book, I put it away. I stored it in my shelf of books, never to be read or looked at if I could help it again. Even now, looking at the cover, I feel a strange revulsion. It's been nearly fifteen years since I read this book, and the cover makes me shiver.

It took me at least a year to read another Bruce Coville book, but my friends kept recommending Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher and the title was so catchy. I figured Mr. Coville wouldn't let me down twice in a row, and he didn't. I really enjoyed Jeremy's adventure raising a dragon.

Now, whenever I read a book that really makes me want to put it down, I think "this book is a toad."

So why am I talking about this when I should be posting reviews of the books I read this week? Well, I haven't completely read any books all week. I'm currently stuck in the middle of an MG book, and all I can think is "this book is a toad."

The book is actually well written. The characters are well developed. The plot seems to be moving along, introducing interesting elements at just the right intervals. Unfortunately the book is about two topics I hate: pirates and Nazis.

When I was in fourth grade I read Treasure Island and it went on my list of books that I've "read" but didn't retain. It basically means I read every single word but never really strung them into sentences. I just couldn't get into it. My list of books like this only contains three: Treasure Island, The Forbidden Door, and Heart of Darkness. Yeah, that's a pretty wide variety there. Those books pretty much have nothing in common. But anyway, reading Treasure Island basically biased me against boy adventure pirate books.

When I was in eighth grade, every book we read in English was about WWII. Now, don't get me wrong. Reading The Dairy of Anne Frank was enlightening, informative, and moving. But did we then have to proceed to read every book ever written for middle graders about the war? I understand studying our past so we don't repeat it, but by the end of the year, I swore off books about Nazis.

So why did I pick up this book (I won't give you the name -don't want you to be biased against it) if it was about two things I hated? Well, it's been a long time since I've read either a pirate book or a Nazi book, so I thought maybe I had grown out of my hatred. Apparently I was wrong. But the real reason why I bought the book was that it promised time travel. The back of the book mentioned time travel devices and the title even mentioned time travel. I LOVE time travel. Movie or novel, I don't care. Time travel is just cool.

Unfortunately, time travel didn't actually come into the novel until pg. 100, and even more unfortunately, the time travel is sort of what introduces the pirates. Ugh.

Even though I keep thinking this book is a toad, I'm still reading it. I won't let myself put it down, because this is some author's baby. I want to finish it, in respect for the author. So that's why you have no book reviews today. I'm stuck in a toad, and I won't let myself read anything else until I've finished it.

Oh, and for all I know Jennifer Murdley's Toad might be the greatest book ever. Please don't hate me, because you liked it and I didn't. It was a really long time ago. But I can't make myself reread it--even now--to discover if it has any merit. The cover just sort of gives me the creeps.

And yes, the picture on this post is the version of the cover of the book I read.

It's just creepy.

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