Children’s Books of the Week: Commander Toad

Commander Toad and the Planet of the Grapes, Commander Toad and the Dis-Asteroid, Commander Toad and the Intergalactic Spy, Commander Toad in Space by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Bruce Degen (there are others in the series, but these are the ones we have read so far)

My kids love puns. Half the time I’m surprised they even get the puns, but they love them. (For the record, the most ridiculously pun-laden book is Gimme Cracked Corn and I Will Share by Kevin O’Malley.) For this reason, my boys adore the Commander Toad books. I’m usually not so hot on Easy Readers unless they’re written by Arnold Lobel, but Henry picked out Commander Toad and the Planet of the Grapes from the library, and I figured we couldn’t go wrong with Jane Yolen (from the How Does a Dinosaur… series) and Bruce Degen (Jamberry).

The Commander Toad books are very silly, and have just enough plot to be an adventure, and pass one of our Good Book Tests (which I’ve already talked about three zillion times): they become plays for the kids later on. Half of the books’ puns are Star Wars-related, which are totally lost on my kids (the ship is called the “Star Warts” and one of the crew is “Young Jake Skyjumper”), there’s a Star Trek reference or two, and the rest are just ridiculousness. Like, in Planet of the Grapes, when they get off the planet, they are “grape-full to be off the planet” and there’s some whine/wine joke. Commander Toad and the Dis-Asteroid has some bean jokes which were mind-blowingly clever from Henry’s perspective. Very silly. Laugh-out-loud funny for the 7-and-under set.

Mostly also I like that when they act out the books, they always cast me as Dr. Hop, because he thinks deep thoughts.

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