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Limpy the cane toad has been in my life for so long it feels strange to think he started out as an abstract idea rather than the intrepid, loyal, warm-hearted bundle of slightly-squashed warts and irrepressible wistfulness I’ve come to love.

Well, two abstract ideas really. Firstly I wanted to have some fun looking at our species through the eyes of a non-human character. To get a different perspective on what we humans get up to when we don’t know other species are watching.

I also wanted to do an experiment. One of my favourite things about stories is the chance they give us to experience empathy in the privacy of our own imaginations. A character might be different to us on the outside, but a good story takes us beneath the surface of that character to a place where we find part of ourselves, and sometimes part of our favourite primary school teacher as well.

But what if a character isn’t just a bit different to us on the outside, but completely, totally, comprehensively, revoltingly different? Size, shape, skin condition, personal habits, the lot? Could a story about such a character still make our hearts soften with recognition? That’s what I wanted to put to the test.

Toad Rage by Morris Gleitzman

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