Book Review: The Hop by Sharelle Byars Moranville

The Hop by Sharelle Byars Moranville and Niki Daly is a children's chapter book about nature, childhood, and a little magic. Tad is a small, tentative toad with a problem. He has started having dreams, marking him as the next Seer. However, the future that looms is far from bright. His home and family is danger from a huge earth eating machine which the toads call the Rumbler. The only way to save everything is for Tad to kiss a human, the Queen of the Hop. Taylor loves spending time with her grandmother and the land nearby. Gardening and enjoy the nearby pond are some of her favorite things. But the land next her grandmother's home has been sold, and the land and pond are going to be destroyed in order to build another strip mall. Taylor is willing to do anything to save the land, but her grandmother is undergoing cancer treatments and her normally distant parents suddenly want her to travel with them. Can Tad find and kiss the queen, and can Taylor save the land that is so precious to her? Their quests intersect in unexpected ways, but will they be able to succeed.

The Hop deals with a child facing big changes in life, and the problems to the environment caused by pollution and progress. Despite the commonly depressing topics, the story is fun and relatable. Taylor faces her grandmother's illness and realizing that her parents have more to them than what she normally sees. Readers can understand how she feels, and why she wants to fight change. Tad might be a toad, but his dilemmas are also relatable. He is timid, but has to step up and deal with things that scare him, just like we all have to do in order to move forward. The Hop offers lessons, but it is also a fun, and funny, read that does not get bogged down or lost in the messages it holds. Daly's illustrations are charming additions that make it easier to understand Tad's view of the world, and the humor in the story.

The Hop is great book for beginning discussions about dealing with change, nature, animals, and ecology. It is also a simply good read. While I knew from the beginning that Tad and Taylor would somehow come together for a common cause, it was done in ways that I did not see coming. I really like a little unpredictability, since it seems so rare to me lately. I highly recommend this read to independent readers, around seven and older.
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