I recently bought this book for my kids. I had it growing up. It's really good and I love it. I guess I always thought Frog was Toad and Toad was Frog. I know better now. I think of all the characters from children's stories that I identify with I relate to Toad best. I'm just more like him than anyone, even though I fancied myself like Harriet the Spy for a while. During that time I hypothesized that the gardener who worked for Grandview Farms (the condos behind my house) was growing marijuana around the edges of the condos. I also decided he was a hunchback, which made it all pretty dramatic and eerie. In reality he looked a lot like Buck Henry: One day I found a set of the gardener's keys. I kept them and wondered what Harriet the Spy would do. I put them back without having a single caper. See--I'm Toad.
When I re-read Frog and Toad with my kids I was pleasantly surprised with charming little tales I had forgotten but I finally came to the story I have always remembered. Frog and Toad go swimming. Toad's anxiety is so realistic to me about his swimming suit that it is almost painful to read. It's so nice how Frog tries to help him out and it's also a little edgy that Frog just swims naked.
Toad wears a black and white striped old fashioned one-piecer. He won't get in or out of the water when people (animals, I guess) are watching him so he stays in the water until nighttime and gets really cold. He eventually comes out and everyone laughs at him, just as he feared they would. It's a good lesson. He actually drew more attention to himself by wanting to avoid attention. I sometimes do that accidentally. In the end, what he feared would happen did happen. Toad doesn't have a heart-warming experience where he realizes that all the animals actually support him and would never laugh at him. That's what is so great about it.
I also relate a lot to Toad because he loves to stay in bed and tends toward slightly depressed. I guess he has what we now call Seasonal Affective Disorder. Frog gets Toad up and out of bed by pulling off the winter months from the calendar--Frog's a genius when it comes to motivating Toad. I dont' know why Frog is so devoted to Toad but I find it moving. I can imagine them in some sort of mercy-killing scenario if one of them were in a lot of pain or paralyzed.
I don't have Seasonal Affective Disorder but I just feel like Toad so much. I think I probably hang out with a lot of people that would relate more to a character such as Eloise, but I don't relate to her at all. I am so much more like Toad even though he's not a human. I read Nancy Drew but I lacked her sophistication. I liked Encyclopedia Brown but I wasn't precocious. Curious George bugged and while I liked Amelia Bedelia, I knew the joke was on her. I LOVED The Giant Jam Sandwich. There's no one character in that book that I relate to but I would feel comfortable in any community that shares a collective enthusiasm for making a really big sandwich. I was fascinated by that lady who takes in Babar for a while. It's kind of like she is in love with him. I yearned for the comraderie of a Babar but I just wasn't that desperate.
I was never as Grumpy as Oscar nor as naive as Big Bird. Grover seemed to have some vague grasp of irony but he was still a little dumb. I wish I were as earnest as Kermit, but I'm not. The Count was too whacked out with his own obsessions. Don't even bring up Elmo or I will punch you in the face. But I probably really wouldn't: Can you imagine Toad mustering up the moxy to punch anyone in the face?