Toad Weather, by Sandra Markle, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez; Peachtree Publishers, $16.95, 32 pages, ages 4-7.
Sometimes it rains cats and dogs. In Philadelphia, it rains toads. Actually, the wet weather brings about the annual vernal toad migration, and on one particularly rainy March day little Ally and her family head out into the streets to see something spectacular – for a few weeks each spring, millions of toads across the country head to water in order to find mates and lay eggs, and the Roxborough neighborhood in Philadelphia is the real-life setting for this migration – there are even volunteers who set up ‘Toad Detours’ to ensure that the amphibians make it across the busy roads. (Toads flood the streets en route to nearby the ponds and reservoir.) Award-winning veteran author Sandra Markle has written over two hundred books for children, and each one is a treat – Toad Weather’s text is a lyrical sing-songy ode to a city transformed by rain, and to the everyday magic that takes place right at our feet. Gonzalez’s luminous pastel and watercolor images of wet toads and earthworms evoke the sense of wonder when we find magic in our everyday surroundings. Don’t skip the informative author’s notes that explain how dedicated groups ensure the life cycle continues for these little croakers.