Toad BOOK LOOK – Chapter 2 of 19


Chapter 2

Jimmy Skunk Consults His Friends


Jimmy Skunk scratched his head thoughtfully as he watched Old Mr. Toad go down the Lone Little Path, hop, hop, hipperty-hop, towards the Smiling Pool. Jimmy Skunk was certainly puzzled. If Old Mr. Toad had told him that he could fly, Jimmy would not have been more surprised, or found it harder to believe than that Old Mr. Toad had a singing voice. The truth is, Jimmy didn’t believe it. He thought that Old Mr. Toad was trying to fool him.

Presently Peter Rabbit came along. He found Jimmy Skunk doing some hard thinking. Jimmy had quite forgotten to look for fat beetles and he was puzzling over his chance encounter with Old Mr. Toad.

Cotton-tail Rabbit by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

“Hello, old striped-coat, what have you got on your mind this fine morning?” asked Peter Rabbit.

“Him,” said Jimmy simply, pointing down the Lone Little Path.

Peter looked. “Do you mean Old Mr. Toad?” he asked.

Jimmy nodded. “Do you see anything odd about him?” he inquired.

Peter stared down the Lone Little Path. “No,” he replied, “except that he seems in a great hurry.”

“Well, that’s just it,” Jimmy returned promptly. “Did you ever see him hurry unless he was frightened?”

Peter confessed that he never had.

“Well, he isn’t frightened now and yet just look at him go,” replied Jimmy. “Says he has a singing voice, and that he has to take part in the spring chorus at the Smiling Pool and that he is late.”

Peter looked very hard at Jimmy to see if he was fooling or telling the truth.

“Old Mr. Toad can sing? And he is a member of a chorus? This I’ve got to see!” said Peter with great curiosity.

Jimmy grinned. “I think he’s crazy, if you ask me,” he said. “And yet he was just as earnest about it as if it were really so. I think he must have eaten something that has gone to his head. There’s Billy Possum over there. Let’s ask him what he thinks.”

So Jimmy and Peter joined Billy, and Jimmy told the story about Old Mr. Toad all over again. Billy chuckled and then said “ I learned long ago that I will always have more to learn about my neighbors. Seems to me we’ve overlooked something about Old Mr. Toad. Let’s all go down to the Smiling Pool and see what this is all about.”

“Oh yes, let’s go!” cried Peter, kicking up his heels. You know Peter is always ready to go anywhere or do anything that will satisfy his curiosity.

Would this fat beetle make for a good skunk snack?

Jimmy Skunk thought it over for a few minutes, and then he decided that as he hadn’t anything in particular to do, and as he might find some fat beetles on the way, he would go too. So off they started after Old Mr. Toad, Peter Rabbit in the lead as usual, Billy Possum next, grinning as only he can grin, and in the rear Jimmy Skunk, taking his time and keeping a sharp eye out for fat beetles.


  1. What animals always seem to be in a hurry when they move? What animals seem to keep a slow steady pace? How about insects – slow ones? fast ones?
  2. Why does Jimmy Skunk like beetles so much? What else do skunks eat? Does Peter Rabbit like beetles too?

Discover more P.L.A.Y. TOAD nature videos and adventures!

Visit the P.L.A.Y. Bird Nature Story Adventures too!


The Burgess Animal Story for Children, The Burgess Bird Story for Children, and The Adventures of __________ series, are all originally authored by Thornton Burgess and are now available to you through P.L.A.Y.

P.L.A.Y. has provided new online versions of these updated and annotated 100+ year old public domain classics to:

  • be suitable for the 21st century family by having the Thornton Burgess woodland characters evolve to model mindfulness and loving kindness
  • highlight and bring awareness to the New England nature settings and offer an opportunity to learn more about the fields and forests through these animal story adventures
  • create story extension moments through P.L.A.Y. suggested activities and investigations for making new nature connections generated by the reader’s own curiosity
  • encourage families to keep their own nature notebooks for drawing, writing, painting, and recording their own local daily outdoor P.L.A.Y. adventures.


Toad BOOK LOOK – Chapter 1 of 19


Chapter 1

Jimmy Skunk Is Puzzled


Old Mother West Wind had just come down from the Purple Hills and turned loose her children, the Merry Little Breezes, from the big bag in which she had been carrying them. They were very lively and very merry as they danced and raced across the Green Meadows in all directions, for it was good to be back there once more. Old Mother West Wind almost sighed as she watched them for a few minutes. She felt that she would like to join them. Always the springtime made her feel this way, young, carefree, and happy. However, she had work to do. She had to turn the windmill to pump water for Farmer Brown’s cows, and this was only one of many mills standing idle as they waited for her. So she puffed her cheeks out and started about her business.

Jimmy Skunk sat at the top of the hill that overlooks the Green Meadows and watched her out of sight. Then he started to amble down the Lone Little Path to look for some beetles. He was ambling along, never in a hurry, when he heard someone huffing and puffing behind him. Of course he turned to see who it was, and he was greatly surprised when he discovered Old Mr. Toad. He was quite out of breath, and yet he was hopping along in the most determined way as if he were in a great hurry to get somewhere.

Skunk – Illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Now it is a very unusual thing for Mr. Toad to hurry, very unusual indeed. As a rule he hops a few steps and then sits down to think it over. Jimmy had never before seen him hop more than a few steps unless he was trying to get away from danger, from Mr. Hognose the snake for instance. Of course the first thing Jimmy thought of was Mr. Hognose as he is very fond of toads for his dinner. And so he looked for him and yet there was no sign of Mr. Hognose nor of any other danger. Then he looked very hard at Old Mr. Toad, and he saw right away that Old Mr. Toad didn’t seem to be frightened at all, only very determined, as if he had something important on his mind.

“Well, well,” exclaimed Jimmy Skunk, “whatever has got into those long hind legs of yours to make them work so fast?”

Old Mr. Toad didn’t say a word, he simply tried to get past Jimmy and keep on his way. Jimmy stayed put in the path as he was so curious to know what was the rush.

“I–I beg your pardon. I don’t have any breath to spare,” panted Old Mr. Toad. “You see I’m in a great hurry.”

“Yes, I see,” replied Jimmy. “Now, what could you possibly be in such a hurry for? I don’t see anything to run away from.”

“I’m not running away, I’m running towards something” said Old Mr. Toad. “I’ve business to attend to at the Smiling Pool, and I’m late as it is.”

“Business!” exclaimed Jimmy as if he could hardly believe his ears. “What business have you at the Smiling Pool?”

“Why, I have a very important part in the spring chorus, and I’m going down there to sing and share my beautiful voice” Old Mr. Toad said with a smile.

This surprised Jimmy Skunk as he had never thought of Old Mr. Toad as a singer or as being a member in a chorus. This gave him a little chuckle realizing there is so much he still doesn’t know about his neighbors in the Green Forest and Green Meadows. He sat looking to the sky for a moment pondering this a bit.

“How is it that you are a singer and I’ve never even heard you?” Jimmy Skunk asked Old Mr. Toad with great curiosity.

However he was too late, Old Mr. Toad was already on his way again hop, hop, hipperty-hop, hop, hop, hipperty-hop down the Lone Little Path.

And so Jimmy Skunk sat alone with a puzzled look on his face trying to figure out what he had just learned.


  1. Why do toads sing? Do other amphibians sing? What other animals in general sing? Why do they sing? What is the difference between a bird singing vs. calling?
  2. Does Jimmy Skunk have a singing voice too? Does a skunk make sounds? If so, what are they?
  3. Have you ever seen a Hognose snake? If not, what do you think it looks like based on the name?

Discover more P.L.A.Y. TOAD nature videos and adventures!

Visit the P.L.A.Y. Bird Nature Story Adventures too!


The Burgess Animal Story for Children, The Burgess Bird Story for Children, and The Adventures of __________ series, are all originally authored by Thornton Burgess and are now available to you through P.L.A.Y.

P.L.A.Y. has provided new online versions of these updated and annotated 100+ year old public domain classics to:

  • be suitable for the 21st century family by having the Thornton Burgess woodland characters evolve to model mindfulness and loving kindness
  • highlight and bring awareness to the New England nature settings and offer an opportunity to learn more about the fields and forests through these animal story adventures
  • create story extension moments through P.L.A.Y. suggested activities and investigations for making new nature connections generated by the reader’s own curiosity
  • encourage families to keep their own nature notebooks for drawing, writing, painting, and recording their own local daily outdoor P.L.A.Y. adventures.


Toad #14: Life Cycle

Toad Life Cycle

Beautiful Drawings in Black & White

Toad Life Cycle by S.H. Gage – Cornell Nature Study Leaflet 1904

Toad Life Cycle Circular by S.H. Gage – Cornell Nature Study Leaflet 1904


P.L.A.Y. Adventure Time 

These simplistic and beautiful drawings of “Old Mr. Toad” are from over 100 years ago and are still just as accurate today.

Time to take a moment and pull out your own nature journal and sketch your observations of toads and tadpoles.

Use a local habitat or the photos and videos provided on P.L.A.Y. and P.L.A.Y. on Pinterest as great ways to engage with this topic year round.


 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~


The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated):

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book 

by Karen L. Willard

Join Peter Rabbit and friends on adventures discovering all about Old Mr. Toad and his days spent in and out of the water!

See sample story pages + purchase HERE

More Tadpoles + Toads in motion at PINTEREST HERE.

Toad #13: Solo Song

What is this female toad listening for?

Visit Pinterest to see this video of a female toad listening to mating calls in the river.


Why does the male toads throat bubble or bulge out as he sings his solo song?

Visit PINTEREST to see a video of a male toad’s mating song down at the river.


P.L.A.Y. Adventure Time 

  • Time to dig deeper into the questions above and get curious and generate some thoughts of your own. Talk with your family and make a list of observations.
  • Watch the videos together and make note of more details you can extract. What more would you like to know? Make a list.

 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~


The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated):

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book 

by Karen L. Willard

Join Peter Rabbit and friends on adventures discovering all about Old Mr. Toad and his days spent in and out of the water!

See sample story pages + purchase HERE

More Tadpoles + Toads in motion at PINTEREST HERE.

Toad #12: Curious Questions

 Why is the female carrying the male to the water vs. meeting in the water to mate?

Most of the pairs of mating toads that I observed down at the river’s edge were all in the water. One day this pair of toads hopped by on the sandy beach and I couldn’t help wonder why she was carrying him across the land which is much heavier than if she just carried him in the water.

 Visit PINTEREST to see a video of these two toads sitting perfectly still without even blinking as the chorus of toads swells all around them at the river’s edge.

This pair of toads, male on top and female on the bottom, are using the buoyancy factor of the water for the female to easily navigate while the male holds on.


P.L.A.Y. Adventure Time 

What does it feel like to carry someone on your back on land and then to try carrying that same person on your back in water?

This summer, safely so as not to injure you or your loved one, select someone smaller than you and try this experiment.

It provides appreciation for how animals have to navigate naturally and the strength it takes both in and out of the water!


 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~


The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated):

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book 

by Karen L. Willard

Join Peter Rabbit and friends on adventures discovering all about Old Mr. Toad and his days spent in and out of the water!

See sample story pages + purchase HERE

More Tadpoles + Toads in motion at PINTEREST HERE.

Toad #11: WARNING Graphic Photos

WARNING: Graphic Biology PHOTOS

Why would a butterfly feed on a dead toad?

My resident butterfly expert (aka my daughter) was actually able to quickly answer this question when I returned from my walk and shared this photo and video with her. I’ll let you uncover the mystery – (video HERE on Pinterest).

Why would females have their heads bit off and not the males?

I’ve been pondering this question since late spring when the toads were mating and I discovered a total of 10 females over 2 weeks time with their heads bitten off. Last year I only discovered one female like this.

So far the mystery remains as all I have found in my search is that some animals bite off the heads and eat the rest of the toad (not in this case) and the head is very toxic.


P.L.A.Y. Adventure Time


  • Sometimes we come upon unexpected things out in nature and they may be challenging to look at for some or fascinating to others. As a family it is important to honor everyone’s P.L.A.Y. time and respect how each person needs to proceed be it curiosity from afar or curiosity close-up. Communicating our needs, at all ages and stages, is key as we explore the great outdoors and the nature of all things.
  • Do you have any recent mysteries that you’ve seen outdoors? Do you have a bunch of unanswered questions? Capture them in a notebook and keep your eyes open and keep searching for answers. You’ll be surprised where the mysteries take you!

 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~


The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated):

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book 

by Karen L. Willard

Join Peter Rabbit and friends on adventures discovering all about Old Mr. Toad and his days spent in and out of the water!

See sample story pages + purchase HERE

More Tadpoles + Toads in motion at PINTEREST HERE.

Toad #10: “Look with your eyes not your hands”

After reading The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (annotated)  and other toad books you may subscribe to the idea “look with your eyes not your hands” whenever you come upon a toad in the woods or garden.

By picking them up you could be harming them in two ways:

  • Toads absorb things through their skin including the water they “drink”. If you haven’t washed your hands you could be passing along oils and bacteria that are not harmful to you however it likely is for the toad.
  • If you pick up a toad from the middle or by the legs you could injure them and they likely will not heal and therefore die.

This “grumpy” looking toad, although seemingly unharmed, might have put on a smile if this fellow had read The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad and known to have left the toad alone in the garden and just appreciated him by taking a photo or sketching him instead!


 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~


The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated):

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book 

by Karen L. Willard

Join Peter Rabbit and friends on adventures discovering all about Old Mr. Toad and his days spent in and out of the water!

See sample story pages + purchase HERE

More Tadpoles + Toads in motion at PINTEREST HERE.

Toad #8 – Camouflage

Where does toad spend most of his days?

Look closely, he is camouflaged in the Green Forest under the shadows of the trees and hiding amongst the leaf litter.

Can you see me better now?!?

P.L.A.Y. Adventure Time 

  • Walk in the woods with a watchful eye seeing what lies amongst the leaf litter. Who else is hiding out down low along the ground in toad’s neck-of-the-woods?
  • What colors often create a camouflage effect or help the animals and critters of the woods blend in?
  • To read more about the colors of Old Mr.Toad’s “coat” get a copy of the book below!

 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~


The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated):

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book 

by Karen L. Willard

Join Peter Rabbit and friends on adventures discovering all about Old Mr. Toad and his days spent in and out of the water!

See sample story pages + purchase HERE

More Tadpoles + Toads in motion at PINTEREST HERE.

Toad #7: More Activities for – The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated)

 


 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~


The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated):

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book 

by Karen L. Willard

Join Peter Rabbit and friends on adventures discovering all about Old Mr. Toad and his days spent in and out of the water!

See sample story pages + purchase HERE

More Tadpoles + Toads in motion at PINTEREST HERE.


Karen’s P.L.A.Y.ful preview & P.L.A.Y.-filled activity suggestions.


P.L.A.Y.ful preview (short):

Toad Tales for the Young and Young at Heart

Singing at the Smiling Pool Playground

Old Mr. Toad’s Odd Tongue

P.L.A.Y.-filled companion activity adventure suggestions (long):

  • Challenge: Read this lively story of Old Mr. Toad’s adventures with his friends and illustrate each chapter with your one-of-a-kind super special drawings.
  • Super Challenge: Using the black and white photos in this P.L.A.Y. book and color photos on this website see if you can discover Old Mr. Toad and his tadpoles and toadlets outdoors near to where you live in late spring and throughout the summer. Remember – toads lay egg strands and frogs lay egg clusters!
  • Super-Duper Challenge: Visit Pinterest to see videos of the Toads in action HERE.

Share the smiles by emailing or snail mailing your original drawings of Old Mr. Toad’s adventures to Karen at P.L.A.Y. and perhaps you’ll see them posted up on P.L.A.Y. to pass the fun forward!


Capkins LOVE to be read nature stories AND to P.L.A.Y. outdoors.

❤ ❤ ❤

These TOAD-ally awesome books are a highly recommended way to extend your P.L.A.Y. adventures.


This picture book, The Hidden Life of a Toad by Doug Wechsler, compliments The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated) by providing color photographs and great factual details about the daily changes of the life cycle of a toad.


Mary Holland‘s book Naturally Curious Day-By-Day is a fabulous resource to have on hand if you live in New England or are simply curious about the flora & fauna in the Northeast USA.

Pages 36, 55-57, 73, 118, 159, and 196 specifically share great information about TOADS.


If you’d like to compare toads and frogs then this is a fun (with some facts) frog fairy tale chapter book titled The Prince of the Pond by Donna Jo Napoli. This story is an excellent read aloud with a few characters to add in funny voices if you like. Enjoyable for the whole family!


TOAD Pinterest Board HERE 

❤ ❤ ❤

Toad #6: Tons of Tadpoles

” A Curious Capkin caught in the middle of tons of tadpoles! “

These toad tadpoles are between 2-3 weeks old now and are very active at the river’s edge.

To see them in action visit PINTEREST video HERE.

Tadpoles gathering in large busy clusters at the river’s edge as the water level recedes a bit from lack of rain storms.


 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~


The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated):

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book 

by Karen L. Willard

Join Peter Rabbit and friends on adventures discovering all about Old Mr. Toad and his days spent in and out of the water!

See sample story pages + purchase HERE

More Tadpoles + Toads in motion at PINTEREST HERE.