Once Upon a Toad
Simon & Schuster, April 2012
hc: 978-1416984788
Barnes & Noble
Once Upon a Toad

"In this re-imagining of “Toads and Diamonds,” Catriona Starr’s astronaut mom gets called up for a space mission with little notice, forcing the 12-year-old to spend three months with her father and stepfamily in Oregon. Not long after her arrival, Cat starts spitting up frogs every time she speaks. To add insult to injury, her stepsister, “Miss Prissy Pants” Olivia, is spitting flowers and diamonds. Within days, they have criminals and government agents after them, and Cat has to find a way out of the mess, toads and all. The girls’ characters are fleshed out well: Cat is a bassoon-playing, outdoors-loving girl, and Olivia, a tap-dancing, aspiring interior designer, is her perfect foil. They are complemented by charming supporting roles, including eccentric great aunt Abyssinia and their younger brother Geoffrey, aka “Barf Bucket,” who might be the only thing Cat and Olivia have in common. When he is kidnapped, the girls embark on a crazy adventure to rescue him. The plot takes many twists, some more predictable than others, and the story is well written and paced. For fans of fantasy and fairy tales, this is a gem."

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