Toad BOOK LOOK – Chapter 12 of 19


Chapter 12

Old Mr. Toad’s Odd Tongue


Peter and Old Mr. Toad sat in the rain watching the tiny Toadlets, who were Mr. Toad’s children, leaving their playground in the Smiling Pool and starting out to see the Great World. When the last little Toadlet had passed them, Old Mr. Toad suddenly remembered that he was hungry, very hungry indeed.

“Didn’t have time to eat much while I was in the Smiling Pool,” Old Mr. Toad explained. “Couldn’t eat and sing too, and while I was down there, I was supposed to sing. Now that it is time to quit singing, I begin to realize that I’ve got a stomach to look out for as well as a voice. See that bug over there on that leaf? Watch him.”

One of the last tadpoles transitioning to a toadlet at the Smiling Pool.
Tiny Toadlet leaving the wet sandy beach at the Smiling Pool.

Peter looked, and sure enough there was a fat bug crawling along on an old leaf. He was about two inches from Old Mr. Toad, and he was crawling very fast. And right while Peter was looking at him he disappeared. Peter turned to look at Old Mr. Toad. He hadn’t budged. He was sitting exactly where he had been sitting all the time, and he was smacking his lips, and there was a twinkle of satisfaction in his eyes. Peter opened his eyes very wide.

“Wha–what–” he began.

“Nice bug,” interrupted Old Mr. Toad. “Nicest bug I’ve eaten for a longtime.”

“Hey, I didn’t see you catch him!” protested Peter, looking at Old Mr. Toad as if he suspected him of joking.

“Did you open your eyes?” inquired Old Mr. Toad.

“Yes, I did,” replied Peter just a wee bit frustrated.

“Then watch me catch that fly over yonder,” said Old Mr. Toad. He hopped towards a fly which had lighted on a stick just ahead. About two inches from it he stopped, and so far as Peter could see, he sat perfectly still.

Bye-bye Mr. Fly!

And yet the fly disappeared, and it wasn’t because it flew away, either. Peter was sure of that. As he told Mrs. Peter about it afterwards, “It was there, and then it wasn’t, and that was all there was to it.”

Old Mr. Toad chuckled. “Didn’t you see that one go, Peter?” he asked.

Peter shook his head feeling more confused then ever and said “Please, would you explain?”

Now when Peter said please that way, of course Old Mr. Toad couldn’t resist sharing.

“Here comes an ant this way. Now you watch my mouth instead of the ant and see what happens,” said Old Mr. Toad.

Peter looked and saw a big black ant coming. Then he kept his eyes on Old Mr. Toad’s mouth. Suddenly there was a little flash of red from it, so tiny and so quick that Peter couldn’t be absolutely sure that he saw it. However, when he looked for the ant, it was nowhere to be seen. Peter looked at Old Mr. Toad very hard.

“Do you mean to tell me, Mr. Toad, that you’ve got a tongue long enough to reach way over to where that ant was?” he asked.

Old Mr. Toad chuckled again. With every insect swallowed he felt better natured. “You’ve guessed it, Peter,” he said. “Handy tongue, isn’t it?”

“I think it’s a very odd tongue,” replied Peter, “and I don’t understand it at all. If it’s so long as all that, where do you keep it when it isn’t in use? I should think you’d have to swallow it to get it out of the way, or else leave it hanging out of your mouth.”

“Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!” laughed Old Mr. Toad. “My tongue is never in the way, and it’s the handiest tongue in the world. I’ll show it to you.”


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Toad BOOK LOOK – Chapter 11 of 19


Chapter 11

The Little Toads Start Out to See the World


The world is a wonderful great big place
And in it the young must roam
To learn what their elders have long since learned–
There’s never a place like home.

It had been some time since Peter Rabbit had visited the Smiling Pool to watch the pollywogs. One cloudy morning he happened to think of them and decided that he would run over there and see how they were getting along. So off he started, lipperty-lipperty-lip. He wondered if those pollywog children of Old Mr. Toad would be much changed. The last time he saw them some of them had just begun to grow legs, although they still had long tails.

He had almost reached the Smiling Pool when great big drops of rain began to splash down. And with those first raindrops something funny happened. Anyway, it seemed funny to Peter. Right away he was surrounded by tiny little Toads. Everywhere he looked he saw Toadlets, tiny little Toads just like Old Mr. Toad, only so tiny that one could have sat comfortably on a dime and still had plenty of room.

Peter’s big eyes grew round with surprise as he stared. Where had they all come from so suddenly? A minute before he hadn’t seen a single one, and now he could hardly move without stepping on one. It seemed as if each raindrop turned into a tiny Toadlet the instant it struck the ground. Of course Peter knew that that couldn’t be. It was very puzzling. And all those little Toadlets were bravely hopping along as if they were bound for some particular place.

Peter watched them for a few minutes, then he once more started for the Smiling Pool and happened to meet Old Mr. Toad sitting on the bank. He looked rather thin, and his back was to the Smiling Pool. He was hopping away from the Smiling Pool where he had been all the spring, singing in the great chorus. Peter was almost as surprised to see him as he had been to see the little Toadlets, although just then he was most interested in those little Toads.

“Good morning, Old Mr. Toad,” said Peter in his most polite manner. “Can you tell me where all these little Toadlets came from?”

Tadpole transitioning to Toadlet in the Smiling Pool

“Certainly,” replied Old Mr. Toad. “They came from the Smiling Pool, of course. Where did you suppose they came from?”

“Oh, I didn’t know. There wasn’t one to be seen, and then it began to rain, and right away they were everywhere. It almost seemed as if they had rained down out of the sky” said Peter feeling very confused.

“They’ve got good sense, if I must say it about my own children,” chuckled Old Mr. Toad. “They know that wet weather is the only weather for Toads to travel in. They left the Smiling Pool in the night while it was damp and comfortable, and then, when the sun came up, they hid, like sensible children, under anything they could find, sticks, stones, pieces of bark, grass. The minute this shower came up, they knew it was good traveling weather and out they popped.”

Tadpole almost a Toadlet with just a tail left behind

“And why, may I ask, did they leave the Smiling Pool?” Peter asked.

“To see the Great World,” replied Old Mr. Toad. ” I did the same thing myself when I was their age. Couldn’t stop me any more than I could stop them. Fine weather, isn’t it?”


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TOAD #16: Spring Magic

How long have these egg strands been here? Is there a way to know their age or “guestimate”? (Hint: dust covered vs. fresh)

Do the toads sing under water too when they are stacked together mating?

P.L.A.Y. Adventure Time 

Visit Pinterest HERE to listen closely to what it sounds like as you walk through the woods and approach the toad chorus calling at the water’s edge.

And visit Pinterest HERE to listen closely to the variations of the toad calls while also spying some mating toads amidst the egg strands in 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 BOOK LOOK – Chapter 8 of 19


Chapter 8

A Shadow Passes Over the Smiling Pool


And so it was a beautiful spring evening. Over in back of the Purple Hills to which Old Mother West Wind had taken her children, the Merry Little Breezes, and behind which jolly, round, red Mr. Sun had gone to bed, there was still a faint, clear light. Over the Green Meadows and the Smiling Pool the shadows had drawn a curtain of soft dusk which in the Green Forest became black. The little stars looked down from the sky and twinkled just to see their reflections twinkle back at them from the Smiling Pool. And there and all around it was perfect peace. Jerry Muskrat swam back and forth, making little silver lines on the surface of the Smiling Pool and squeaking contentedly, for it was the hour which he loves best. Little Friend the Song Sparrow had tucked his head under his wing and gone to sleep among the alders along the Laughing Brook and Redwing the Blackbird had done the same thing among the bulrushes. All the feathered songsters who had made joyous the bright day had gone to bed.

A Smiling Pool in the sunny day time before the dark shadows arrive for the night.

However, this did not mean that the glad spring chorus was silent. Oh, my, no! The Green Meadows were silent, and the Green Forest was silent, and yet as if to make up for this, the sweet singers of the Smiling Pool, the hylas and the frogs and Old Mr. Toad, were pouring out their gladness as if they had not been singing most of the departed day. You see it was the hour they love best of all, the hour which seems to them just made for singing, and they were doing their best to tell Old Mother Nature how they love her, and how glad they were that she had brought back sweet Mistress Spring to waken them from their long sleep.

It was so peaceful and beautiful there that it didn’t seem possible that danger of any kind could be lurking near. And yet Old Mr. Toad, swelling out that odd music bag in his throat and singing with all his might, never once forgot to be alert and so he was the first to see what looked like nothing so much as a little detached bit of the blackness of the Green Forest floating out towards the Smiling Pool. Instantly he stopped singing. That was a signal. When he stopped singing, his nearest neighbor stopped singing, then the next one and the next, and in a minute there wasn’t a sound from the Smiling Pool save the squeak of Jerry Muskrat hidden among the bulrushes. That great chorus stopped as abruptly as the lights go out when you flip a switch.

Back and forth over the Smiling Pool, this way and that way, floated the shadow, and yet there was no sign of any living thing in the Smiling Pool. After awhile the shadow floated away over the Green Meadows without a sound.

“Hooty the Owl didn’t get one of us for dinner that time,” said Old Mr. Toad to his nearest neighbor with a chuckle of satisfaction. Then he swelled out his music bag and began to sing again. And at once, as abruptly as it had stopped, the great chorus began again as joyous as before, for due to the watchfulness of Old Mr. Toad nothing had happened to the spring chorus singers.

Toad BOOK LOOK – Chapter 7 of 19


Chapter 7

Peter Discovers Something More


There are stranger things in the world today
Than ever you dreamed could be.
There’s beauty in some of the commonest things
If only you’ve eyes to see.

Ever since Peter Rabbit was a baby bunny and then had made his own home in the dear Old Briar Patch, he had known Old Mr. Toad, and never once had Peter suspected that he could sing.

Now that they had discovered that he really has a very beautiful singing voice, they began to have a greater appreciation for Old Mr. Toad. This was especially so for Peter. He got in the habit of going over to the Smiling Pool every day just to sit on the bank and listen to Old Mr. Toad.

“Why didn’t you ever tell us before that you could sing?” he asked one day, as Old Mr. Toad looked up at him from the Smiling Pool.

“What would be the use?” replied Old Mr. Toad. “You probably wouldn’t have believed me if I had.”

Peter knew that this was true, and he couldn’t find any answer ready. At last he ventured another question. “And if I’ve known you for so long why haven’t I ever heard you sing before?”

“You have,” said Old Mr. Toad. “I sang right in this very place last spring, and the spring before, and the spring before that. You’ve sat on that very bank lots of times while I was singing.”

Peter was confused and still very curious so he ventured another question. “Have I ever heard you singing up on the meadows or in the Old Orchard?”

“Oh no,” replied Old Mr. Toad, “I only sing in the springtime at the Smiling Pool. That’s the time for singing. I just have to sing then. In the summer it is too hot, and in the winter I sleep. I always return to my old home to sing. You know I was born here. All of the toads gather here in the spring to sing, so of course I come too.”

Old Mr. Toad then filled out his odd music bag under his chin and began to sing again. Peter watched him. Now it just happened that Old Mr. Toad was facing him, and so Peter looked down straight into his eyes. He never had looked directly into Mr. Toad’s eyes before, and now he just stared and stared, for it came over him that those eyes were very beautiful, very beautiful indeed.

“Oh!” he exclaimed, “what beautiful eyes you have, Mr. Toad!”

“So I’ve been told,” replied Old Mr. Toad. “The Toad family has always had beautiful eyes. There is an old saying that every Toad has jewels in his head, of course he hasn’t, not real jewels. It is just the beautiful eyes. Excuse me, Peter, I’m needed in that chorus.” Old Mr. Toad once more swelled out his throat and began to sing.

Peter watched him a while longer and then hopped away to the dear Old Briar-patch to sit and ponder all that he had learned today about his friend Old Mr. Toad.



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TOAD #15: Magical Movement

Watch a video of these tadpoles in action on Pinterest HERE

(Above) A Curious Capkin watches the active tadpoles at P.L.A.Y. at the river’s edge on a summer’s day.


 ~ ~ ~ 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 BOOK LOOK – Chapter 6 of 19


Chapter 6

How Old Mr. Toad Learned to Sing


Old Mr. Toad paid no attention to Peter, not even when he was spoken to. He was so absorbed in his singing that he just didn’t hear. Peter sat there a while to listen; then he called out to Jimmy Skunk and Billy Possum, who were also listening to the music, and they were just as surprised as Peter. Then he spied Jerry Muskrat at the other end of the Smiling Pool and hurried over there. Peter was so full of the discovery he had made that he could think of nothing else and he fairly ached to share this with others.

Muskrat – Illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

“Jerry!” he cried. “Oh, Jerry Muskrat! Do you know that Old Mr. Toad can sing?”


Jerry looked surprised that Peter should ask such a question. “Of course I know it,” he said. “It would be mighty funny if I didn’t know it, seeing that he is the sweetest singer in the Smiling Pool and has sung here every spring since I can remember.”

Peter looked very much chagrined. “I didn’t know it until just now,” he confessed. “I didn’t believe him when he told me that he could sing. I wonder how he ever learned.”

He didn’t learn any more than you learned how to jump,” replied Jerry. “It just came to him naturally. His father sang, and his grandfather, and his great grandfather, way back to the beginning of things. I’m surprised you do not know about this.”

“I don’t actually. Oh, please do tell me more about it Jerry,” pleaded Peter.

“All right, I will,” replied Jerry good-naturedly. “In the first place, Old Mr. Toad belongs to a very old and honorable family, one of the very oldest. I’ve heard say that it goes way back almost to the very beginning of things when there wasn’t much land. Anyway, the first Toad, the great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather of Old Mr. Toad and own cousin to the great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather of Grandfather Frog, was one of the first to leave the water for dry land.

“Old Mother Nature met him hopping along and making hard work of it because, of course, it was so new. ‘What are you doing here?’ she asked. ‘Are you not content with the water where you were born?’”

“Mr. Toad bowed very low. ‘Yes,’ he said humbly. ‘I’ll go right back there if you say so. I thought there must be some things worth finding out on the land, and that I might be of some use in the Great World.’”

“His answer pleased Old Mother Nature. She was worried. She had planted all kinds of things on the land, and they were springing up everywhere, and she had discovered that bugs of many kinds liked the tender green things and were increasing so fast that they threatened to strip the land of all that she had planted. She had so many things to tend to that she hadn’t the time to take care of the bugs. ‘If you truly want to be of some use,’ she said, ‘you can tend to some of those bugs.’”

A Fly or otherwise known as a “tasty treat for a Toad”!

“Mr. Toad went right to work, and Old Mother Nature went about some of her other business. Having so many things to look after, she quite forgot about Mr. Toad, and it was several weeks before she came that way again. Right in the middle of a great bare place where the bugs had eaten everything was now a beautiful green spot, and patiently hopping from plant to plant was Mr. Toad, snapping up every bug he could see. He didn’t notice Old Mother Nature and he kept right on working. She watched him for a while as he hopped from plant to plant catching bugs as fast and he could, and then she spoke.

“’Have you stayed right here since I last saw you?’ she asked.”

“Mr. Toad gave a start of surprise. ‘Yes, I have,’ he said.”

“’I thought you wanted to see the Great World and learn things,’ she said.”

“Mr. Toad looked a little embarrassed. ‘So I did,’ he replied, ‘and I wanted to be of some use, and the bugs have kept me so busy there was not time to travel. Besides, I have learned a great deal right here. I couldn’t get around fast enough to save all the plants, I’ve just saved what I could.’”

“At that Old Mother Nature’s face lit up with one of her most beautiful smiles. ‘Mr. Toad,’ she said, ‘if you could have just one wish what would it be?’”

“Mr. Toad hesitated a few minutes and then said quietly, ‘A beautiful voice.’”

“It was Old Mother Nature’s turn to look surprised. ‘A beautiful voice!’ she exclaimed. “Why would you want a beautiful voice?’”

“So that I can express my happiness in the most beautiful way I know of, by singing,’ replied Mr. Toad.”

“’Then you shall have it,’ declared Old Mother Nature, ‘although not all the time lest you be tempted to forget your work, which , you know, when you are of service is a real source of true happiness. In the spring of each year you shall go back to your home in the water and there for a time you shall sing to your heart’s content, and there shall be no sweeter voice than yours.’”

Toad in the water in late spring

“Sure enough, when the next spring came, Mr. Toad was filled with a great longing to go home. When he got there, he found that in his throat was a little music bag; and when he swelled it out, he had one of the sweetest voices in the world. And so it has been ever since with the Toad Family. Old Mr. Toad is one of the sweetest singers in the Smiling Pool, and when it is time to go back to work he is most diligent in Mother Nature’s garden,” concluded Jerry Muskrat.

More Toad egg strands piling up and some getting covered with the “dusty” silt from the bottom of the Smiling Pool after an overnight storm stirred things up.

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Toad BOOK LOOK – Chapter 5 of 19


Chapter 5

Old Mr. Toad’s Music Bag


“I’ve found Old Mr. Toad!” cried Peter Rabbit, hurrying after Jimmy Skunk.

“Where?” Jimmy asked.

“In the water,” declared Peter. “He’s sitting right over there where the water is shallow, and he didn’t notice me at all. Let’s get Billy Possum, and then peek over the edge of the Smiling Pool and watch to see if Old Mr. Toad really does sing.”

So they rounded up Billy Possum, and the three quietly approached the edge of the Smiling Pool, where the bank was low and the water shallow. Sure enough, there sat Old Mr. Toad with just his head out of the water. And while they were watching him, something very strange happened.

“What’s the matter with him?” whispered Peter, his big eyes looking as if they might pop out of his head.

“If he doesn’t watch out, he’ll blow up and bust!” exclaimed Jimmy.

“Listen!” whispered Billy Possum. “Do my old ears hear right? It appears to me that that song is coming right from where Old Mr. Toad is sitting.”

It certainly did appear so, and of all the songs that glad spring day there was none sweeter. Indeed there were few as sweet.

The only trouble was the song was so very short. It lasted only for two or three seconds. And when it ended, Old Mr. Toad looked quite his natural usual self again. Peter looked at Jimmy Skunk, Jimmy looked at Billy Possum, and Billy looked at Peter. And no one had a word to say. They all just sat so surprised by this unexpected revelation. Then all three looked back at Old Mr. Toad.

And even as they looked, his throat began to swell and swell and swell, until it was no wonder that Jimmy Skunk had thought that he was in danger of blowing up. And then, when it stopped swelling, there came again those beautiful little notes, so sweet and tremulous that Peter actually held his breath to listen. There was no doubt that Old Mr. Toad was singing just as he had said he was going to, and it was just as true that his song was one of the sweetest if not the sweetest of all the chorus from and around the Smiling Pool. It was very hard to believe, and yet Peter and Jimmy and Billy both saw and heard, and that was enough. Their appreciation for Old Mr. Toad grew tremendously as they listened.

Toad with the beginning of a bulging throat sitting near two egg strands.

“How does he do it?” whispered Peter.

“With that bag under his chin, of course,” replied Jimmy Skunk. “Don’t you see it’s only when that is swelled out that he sings? It’s a regular music bag. And I didn’t know he had any such bag there at all.”

“I wish,” said Peter Rabbit, feeling of his throat, “that I had a music bag like that in my throat so I could join in the singing.”

“Hold on, what are those long sparkly strands in the water?” asked Jimmy.

“I don’t know, there seem to be so very many spotty dots inside them all lined up,” said Peter.

Toad egg strands

Just then Mr. Redwing Blackbird briefly appeared again and said, “I overheard you two talking and thought I’d let you know that those strings of black little pearl beauties in the water are actually egg strands. In a few weeks those fertilized eggs will hatch out of the strands and be wiggling about as tadpoles.”

“What? How can that be?” asked Jimmy Skunk.

“Just you wait and see,” said Mr. Redwing Blackbird.

“How could that happen? What did I miss?” Peter Rabbit persisted with great curiosity.

“Overnight the female toads arrived to listen to the all male toad chorus and once they mated the egg strands were left here in the Smiling Pool. It happens every year about this time,” said Mr. Redwing Blackbird who then took flight and left Peter and Jimmy Skunk with a bunch of questions on the tip of their tongues.

Beautiful egg strands ripple and glisten in the water at the edge of the Smiling Pool

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Toad BOOK LOOK – Chapter 4 of 19


Chapter 4

Peter Rabbit Finds Old Mr. Toad


As each spring rolls around Peter Rabbit finds himself wishing he could burst into song as his feathered friends do at this time of year. The birds pour out in beautiful song the joy that is in them and he wishes he could do the same. Instead of a singing voice Mother Nature gave him the ability to kick his long heels and jump about to express his feelings . While that gives Peter a great deal of satisfaction, he still wishes from time to time that he could join in the singing.

And so he was wishing this very thing now, as he sat on the bank of the Smiling Pool, listening to the great spring chorus.

“Tra-la-la-lee! Oka-chee! Oka-chee! There’s joy in the spring for you and for me,” sang Redwing the Blackbird from the bulrushes.

Meadow Lark by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

From over in the Green Meadows rose the clear lilt of Carol the Meadow Lark, and among the alders just where the Laughing Brook ran into the Smiling Pool a flood of happiness was pouring from the throat of Little Friend the Song Sparrow. Winsome Bluebird’s sweet, almost plaintive, whistle seemed to fairly float in the air, so that it was hard to say just where it did come from, and in the top of the Big Hickory tree, Welcome Robin was singing as if his heart were bursting with joy. Sammy Jay was also adding a beautiful bell-like note. As for the Smiling Pool, it seemed as if the very water itself sang, for a mighty chorus of clear piping voices from unseen singers rose from all around its banks. Peter knew who those singers were, although look as he might he could see none of them. They were hylas, the tiny cousins of Stickytoes the Tree Toad.

Listening to all these joyous voices, Peter forgot for a time what had brought him to the Smiling Pool. However, Jimmy Skunk and Billy Possum didn’t forget. They were still looking for Old Mr. Toad.

“Well, Mr. Dreamer, have you found him yet?” asked Jimmy Skunk, coming up behind Peter.

Peter came to himself with a start. “No,” he said. “I was just listening and wishing that I could sing, too. Don’t you ever wish you could sing, Jimmy?”

“No,” replied Jimmy. “I never spend time wishing I could do things that I was never meant to do. It is funny though that Old Mr. Toad is nowhere in sight. He said that he was coming down here to sing, and Redwing the Blackbird seemed to be expecting him. I’ve looked everywhere I can think of without finding him. Ah well, I do believe I’ll give it one more try. Stop your day dreaming Peter and come help us look.”

So Peter stopped his dreaming and joined in the search. Now there was one place where neither Peter nor Jimmy nor Billy had thought of looking. That was in the Smiling Pool itself. They just took it for granted that Old Mr. Toad was somewhere on the bank. Presently Peter came to a place where the bank was very low and the water was shallow for quite a little distance out in the Smiling Pool. From out of that shallow water came the piping voice of a hyla, and Peter stopped to stare, trying to see the tiny singer.

Suddenly he jumped right up in the air with surprise. There was a familiar looking head sticking out of the water. Peter had found Old Mr. Toad!

Toad in the water during mating season

P.L.A.Y. Ponderings

  1. Is it spring where you are? What animals are singing? Softly? Loudly?
  2. Could you describe their songs with words or letters and make a drawing? Or could you try to mimic or copy their sounds with your voice or by whistling?
  3. Are there animals that are staying silent at this time?

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Toad BOOK LOOK – Chapter 3 of 19


Chapter 3

The Hunt for Old Mr. Toad


Now, Old Mr. Toad was hurrying as fast as ever he could and was quite out of breath, and he wasn’t getting along very fast compared with the way Peter Rabbit or Jimmy Skunk or Billy Possum could cover the ground. You see he cannot make long jumps like his cousin, Grandfather Frog, only little short hops instead.

Possum – Illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

So Peter and Jimmy and Billy took their time about following him. They stopped to hunt for fat beetles for Jimmy Skunk, and pausing at every little patch of sweet clover for Peter Rabbit to help himself. They waited for Billy Possum to hunt for a nest of Carol the Meadow Lark, on the chance that he would find some fresh eggs there. He didn’t find the nest for the very good reason that Carol hadn’t built one just yet this season.

Half way across the Green Meadows they stopped to play with the Merry Little Breezes, and because it was very pleasant there, they played longer than they realized. When at last they started on again, Old Mr. Toad was out of sight.

“Never mind,” said Peter, “we can catch up with him easy enough”.

Meanwhile, Old Mr. Toad kept right on, hop, hop, hipperty-hop, while the others were playing, and so it happened that when at last Peter and Jimmy and Billy reached the Smiling Pool, they hadn’t caught another glimpse of him.

“Do you suppose he hid somewhere, and we passed him?” asked Peter.

Billy shook his head. “ I don’t reckon so, I think he just got ahead of us and we’ll find him here sitting on the bank somewhere.”

So right away the three separated to look for Old Mr. Toad. All along the bank of the Smiling Pool they looked. They peeped under old leaves and sticks. They looked in every place where Old Mr. Toad might have hidden, and they could not find a trace of him.

“Tra-la-la-lee! Oka-chee! Oka-chee! Happy am I as I can be!” sang Mr. Redwing, as he swayed to and fro among the bulrushes.

Redwing Blackbird – Illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

“Say, Mr. Redwing, have you seen Old Mr. Toad?” called Peter Rabbit.

“No,” replied Mr. Redwing. “Is that whom you fellows are looking for? I wondered if you had lost something. What do you want with Old Mr. Toad?”

Peter explained how they had followed Old Mr. Toad to see what he was up to. “We are curious to know if he really has a singing voice,” said Peter,” or if the spring has made Old Mr. Toad crazy as he was in such a hurry to reach the Smiling Pool.”

“Oh, that’s it, is it?” replied Mr. Redwing, his bright eyes twinkling. “I’ve been wondering where Old Mr. Toad was, and I’m ever so glad to learn that he hasn’t forgotten that he has a very important part in our beautiful spring chorus.” Then once more Mr. Redwing began to sing.


  1. If there was a foot race on land who would come in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place between Jimmy Skunk, Billy Possum, Old Mr. Toad, and Peter Rabbit. Why?
  2. What would it like to spend your day with a “bird’s eye view” like Mr. Redwing flying overhead and seeing what is going on in the meadow, orchard, Smiling Pool, and other special spaces?

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The Burgess Animal Story for Children, The Burgess Bird Story for Children, and The Adventures of __________ series (Paddy the Beaver, Lightfoot the Deer, Old Mr. Toad, etc.), 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.