Unhappy about being forced to go to a girl’s birthday party, young Cody and Josh head to the swamplands to get a bucket of toads which they plan to let loose at the party. When the boys get lost, however, the story takes a darker turn.
These mischievous boys are typically naughty and the narrator, Jon Diienno, brings them to life with gleeful petulance. They bicker, plot, explore and double-dare each other, and it’s all captured nicely in Miranda Hardy’s writing and Diienno’s reading.
I had to listen to this short story twice because, in the first run, I was surprised at how dark the story got during the second half, particularly for such a young target audience. The second time around it didn’t seem so tense. Even so, I’d recommend parents listen to it first before deciding if it’s suitable for their own children.
Miranda Hardy is an entertaining writer for young kids, and they should easily relate to the central boys in particular. It’s their story, and the characters are well-developed. The tale is simple but satisfying and, running only 25 minutes, it’s an easy listen for families.
I love kid’s stories. There’s something refreshing and fun about the juvenile characters and the much simpler plots that don’t work in adult books. A well-written children’s book offers a great break from the complexities of adult life and entertainment, and I have enormous respect for an author who can write age-appropriate characters and stories. I firmly believe that writing for kids is much harder than writing for adults. Likewise, for narrators of juvenile fiction, it is much easier to patronise a young target audience than to be able to read with a respect for their intelligence.
Both Hardy and Diienno succeed in, not only presenting a good yarn, but in presenting it just right.