The Toad Who Loves Tea by Faiz Kermani

Rating 8.0/10
One of his best stories so far

What happens when you brew together a toad who loves tea, a cruel crow, snobby customers and an ancient toad prediction?

In The Frog Who Was Blue, Biriwita had to cope with how other frogs treated him for being a different colour. Here Tungtang is different from other toads, she likes to stroll down by the riverbank and explore the area while her toad friends sit around and wait for flies to land their way. While they spend their days doing nothing, Tungtang has ambitions, ones that seem to alienate her from other toads.

One day, Tungtang comes back to Muddy River, the toad community and tries to tell the other toads what she has seen, but her sightseeing is of no interest to them; especially to a pesky crow who does his best to make Tungtang look a fool. As she is so unlike other toads around her, they see her as strange, annoying and treat her as though she is idiotic for being unique. Tungtang gets to the bottom of why no toad deviates from Muddy River though; they are afraid of the humans who live in the town as any who do set foot there are kidnapped never to be seen again!

Tungtang takes no notice of this fable, telling her toad friends she will be the first toad to go into town and make her own destiny. It is only when she talks to Grandpa Nutbelch he tells her of an old prediction that Tungtang takes to heart of a toad who could gain fame from being associated with humans.

Tungtang's journey takes her to Little Cobblestone, a historic market town that tends to rain a lot. Tungtang expects to wander around a while when she smells something wonderful coming from Queen Catherine's Olde English Tea Shoppe. Tungtang sneaks in in for a taste when owners Lydia and Kamran find a mess of food and drink waiting for them on the tables, causing them to think they have a dangerous intruder.

They have, though the last thing they expect to see is a toad with an interest in their tea. Tungtang's journey for a new life is one she was right about when she develops a taste for various teas from around the world. Faiz is great at teaching his younger readers not to be
narrow-minded about the world outside their front door, and also that others should respect your differences. Tungtang is a toad who likes to venture out of her comfort zone in order to experience what life is like in the larger places. There are even opportunities for her when Queen Catherine's has a vacancy for a tea taster. The question is, will Lydia and Kamran want to hire a toad?

Illustrated in full colour by Korey Scott, Faiz's story features one of his most charismatic characters; Tungtang. Laughed at by her peers, she thinks she could fulfil the prophecy set by Dusty Sox the Great, or if all else fails, she will at least have an adventure to be proud of. The story has some comedic moments in it; Tungtang gets told that humans are unlike toads in that they like to live in small houses with even smaller rooms and even though they have legs to walk around on, they travel around in small cars. The way Faiz has humans explained is
enough to make me think this is one of his best stories so far.

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