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Jennifer Murdley's Toad: A Magic Shop Book Hardcover – September 1, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews
Book 3 of 5 in the A Magic Shop Book Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This fanciful story questions the value of beauty yet spins out of control after a promising start. Jennifer, a fifth-grader, agonizes over her appearance--"I'm just a kid in the plain brown wrapper"--and her schoolmates' taunts are doubly painful. After purchasing a toad from a mysterious shopkeeper Jennifer is amazed to discover that not only can Bufo talk, he can mimic voices unerringly. At school the canny amphibian inflicts vengeance on Sharra, a nasty classmate. When a gorgeous witch kidnaps Jennifer's youngest sibling, her evil intentions are thwarted by teamwork--and by Jennifer's sacrifices that reveal qualities surpassing mere beauty. Coville's ( Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher ) comical classroom scenes lapse into a convoluted web involving Bufo's long-lost sweetheart and the belabored idea that pulchritude denotes cruelty; unattractiveness, humanity. The book's laudable message, however, is clearly delineated, and as kind, loyal Jennifer endures a poor self-image, one hopes readers will see the light. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6--As is this series' pattern, a child who is having a problem runs away and finds herself in the magic shop with Mr. Elives. Jennifer believes she is ugly and has trouble making friends. Wanting a pet, she buys Bufo, a toad hatched years before from the mouth of a witch who spewed out frogs, snakes, and other nas ty items. He has spent his recent life looking for his lost love, another toad. Naturally, he helps Jennifer see her in ner self. In the process, she, her brother, and a school enemy are all turned into toads. Meanwhile, the witch is out to find Bufo. It all gets somewhat confus ing, but as in earlier books, an adult steps in, and all turns out for the best. Very similar in plot to Coville's Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher (HBJ, 1991), the story moves well, with realistic char acterizations. Fans of Coville's earlier books will probably like this as well, es pecially when the children-cum-toads discover their appetite for bugs. The black-and-white illustrations go well with the text, featuring an expressive toad and an unattractive Jennifer and witch. The theme of inner beauty is par ticularly well handled for this age group.
-Margaret C. Howell, West Springfield Elementary School, VA
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 7
  • Series: Magic Shop Book (Book 3)
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books (September 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152046135
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152046132
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,582,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Growing up I didn't read much at all. My parents started to bribe me for each page I read, but it wasn't until I read authors like Bruce Coville that I really got into stories.

Jennifer Murdley's Toad is one of my all time favorite. Along with Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, it's my favorite of the magic shop books.

The characters are likeable and full of depth, and using Charles Perrault's "The Fairies" as a basis was brilliant. I love tales centered on legend and folklore and old fairy tales, it adds to them a believability and richness.

If you've ever felt as though you were a girl (or boy) in a plain brown wrapper...if you've ever longed to stumble into a magic shop and come away with an adventure, this is a story you'd enjoy.

Though intended for children, it's still one I can pick up with fondness and immerse myself in again.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jennifer is a little chubby, but bright and funny! And some of the toads can talk! Our "boy" toad hero is Bufo who, by the way, is 465 years old. And Bufo likes movies. Pages 32 to 33:

'"Thanks, sweetheart" said Bufo in a odd voice.
"What did you call me?" said Jennifer.
"Sweetheart," said Bufo in the same odd, throaty voice.
"Then why did you call me sweetheart?"
Bufo looked crushed. "You didn't recognize that?"
"Recognize what?"
"My Humphrey Bogart imitation! I was doing Bogey and you didn't even know it! Gad, that is humiliating."
"But I don't even know who Humphrey Bogart is," said Jennifer, bewildered.
Bufo whirled around. "You don't know Bogey? What do they teach you in these schools?"
"Not much," said Jennifer glumly.
"I should say not," snorted Bufo. "Not knowing a great actor like Humphrey Bogart...it's...appalling!"
"An actor?" Jennifer loves movies. "Does he have a new film coming out?"
"He's been dead for decades."
Jennifer's face fell. "Then what good is he?"'

Oh, was that a wonderful book, or what? Is this 5* stars? How about 10* stars! Bruce Coville: Keep `em coming, kid.

Ira

P.S. --- The pictures and illustrated by Gary A. Lippincott are amazing, too.
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Format: Paperback
I read Jennifer Murdley's Toad for the first time when I was 10. I still feel it is the most important book I have ever read. Every child needs to read it--the themes will carry over and inspire hope into the teen years and beyond. I wish they would make it into a movie but there is no way Hollywood would or could ever do it justice. It flies in the face of everything that is wrong with popular culture today. I don't care how old you are: read this book!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first found this book at the library years ago for my kids and I liked the story so well I carried it in my substitute teacher work bag for reading to students at the end of the day. THEY liked it so well that years later I bought it for my grandchildren.
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Format: Paperback
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Plot

Like all the other Magic Shop books, Jennifer Murdley's Toad starts off the same way. Jennifer is running away from some very cruel girls and ends up walking onto the street where the magic shop is located. She ends up buying a toad and when I found out what this story was really about I thought I wasn't going to like it. A toad? Seriously?

Once I got into the story I was surprised that I was really enjoying it! It was much more interesting than I ever thought it would be. Pretty much the entire story is about Jennifer's toad turning her enemy into a toad, trying to figure out how to turn her back and realizing that by kissing someone else they turn back into a human, but the person they kiss is a toad. It is a huge cycle because someone always ends up being a toad and they have to figure out how to get rid of this problem while saving Bufo (her toad) from a witch. It ends up being a very entertaining story and children will really love how exciting it is!

Characters

I actually enjoyed all the characters of the story. I thought they were all very well developed and had their own personalities, which made it very easy to distinguish between all of them. I think Jennifer's little brother was actually my favorite character besides Bufo because he was so cute and hilarious. Jennifer is an interesting character too, but she has a poor self image because she thinks she is ugly and all she wants is to be is pretty. There are some pretty good lessons taught in this book about beauty (what matters is on the inside), which can be discussed with children who may feel the same way.
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A Kid's Review on October 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is good for third and fourth graders. It is about a toad that can talk and has a personality. It is a fun book because it is magical, mysterious, and fun at the same time. I have liked the other books in the series too.
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Format: Paperback
 Jennifer Murdley's Toad by BRUCE COVILLE
Beauty on the inside or the outside, which is more important? Jennifer, who would love to be beautiful like her mother, avoids mirrors and runs from the mean girls at her school. One such escape ends in her finding Mr. Elive’s magic shop and adopting Bufo the magical toad, and that’s when the trouble starts! Beware the Beauty Parlor of Doom, mirrors everywhere, but can one trust those reflections? I loved the ending, a surprise, not what I expected -- better!
The Note from the Author credits Jane Yolen for encouraging this book project, one more thing to thank her for. This book is juvenile fiction -- I don't discriminate, good books come in all forms.
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