Jul 8, 2012


Ever think of burying a toad in limestone for a year?

No, me neither.

Interesting thought though. If I ever decided to bury a toad for a year, I bet I could never find him again when it was time to dig him up. Poor devil.

Of course it wouldn't be for lack of preparation. I'd use a marker and mark a giant 'X' on the spot where I buried the toad in the rock (hence Toad in The Hole). I think I'd even use GPS.

But with acid rain, global warming and my innate inability to find at least one pair of matching socks in my own bedroom, I'm sure any poor toad I buried in a rock would be lost forever - GPS or not.

That's why I'm so impressed with William Buckland, who during the 1820's attempted to rid his Auntie's garden of toads by conducting a 'scientific experiment.'

In that experiment Buckland decided to find how long a toad, encased in rock would remain alive.

But that's not the impressive thing.

The impressive thing is that, after burying dozens of these warty little amphibians in his  own back yard (that's self sacrifice for you) he managed to find them all a year later.

Incredibly, (that last word says 'incredibly' in case you can't read it) when he dug them up a year later, most of them were dead.

But fear not, toad dislikers of the world, those that had survived he put to the 'acid' test.

Yes, you guessed it.

He reburied them for another year.

A year later, when he dug them up again it might surprise you to learn that the 'surviving' toads were also dead.

After these two rigorous experiments (he must have grown very bored hanging around his garden for an entire year making sure none of these toads escaped) Buckland concluded that reports of toads being entombed in rock and surviving were not only wrong, but licentious.

Of course, as outsiders we can see that Buckland's hypothesis had some holes. For example, it says no where in the record that he fed any of these toads. Nor does it mention whether he washed his hands both before and after the experiment. And while we are on the 'nors' - nor did he tie his hair back in a bun - as recommended by the Toad Handler's Association of Northumberland. (THAoN article 7 paragraph 19 - a member of good standing will not handle a Toad without first and forthmost as said member bunning his hair, preferably in a thilken thock - my Bold)

I think Buckland's conclusions should be amended to: 100 percent of toads buried in misc. rocks for a year or two by William Buckland in the 1820s, without food, water or proper shelter are likely to die - most probably from infections they picked up from Buckland's hands, or of secondary complications brought on by being in the presence of 'unbunned hair'.

They talk about 'Man's Inhumanity to Man'.

What about 'Man's Inhumanity to Toads', eh?

And wait till my hair dresser hears about this.
He will be inthensed at the lack of bunning, I bet you..

While we are not on the subject can anyone recommend some good 'wordless' books? I'm onto Weisner, Lehman, Tan's The Arrival  etc. Here is the list I ordered (not all wordless books) . Any recommendations very welcome. :)

See you!

The Snowman : Raymond Briggs

Sidewalk Circus  :Paul-Fleischman-Kevin-Hawkes

The Polar Express:  Chris-Van-Allsburg

The Garden of Abdul Gasazi: Chris-Van-Allsburg

Sweetest Fig:  Chris-Van-Allsburg

June 29, 1999: Weisner


The Three Pigs: Weisner

Flotsam: Weisner

Free Fall: Weisner

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: Judith-Viorst-Ray-Cruz

Good Dog, Carl: Alexander Day

A Boy, A Dog & A Frog: Mercer Mayer

Noah's Ark: Jerry Pinkney

Chalk: Bill Thomson

Museum Trip: Barbara Lehman

Rainstorm:  Barbara Lehman

Trainstop:  Barbara Lehman

The Red Book:  Barbara Lehman

Jumanji 30th Anniversary Edition: Chris Van Allsburg

The Lion and the Mouse: Jerry Pinkney

By the way, here's the Wiki. 


  1. Well, I like this illustration style! We have a toad cave just outside our house. It is under the tile path. I think they congregate there. I am surprised no predators have eaten them. Good to see you back. Tsup!

  2. Love the whole etching-like texture to these images. And the story is fabulous...even though I felt sorry for the poor toads. As for wordless books, I love them. I love tHat they're instantly available to everyone...no translation required. No list is complete without the amazing Peter Collington. Check out his website...his latest is about a surfer...go figure! My personal faves, as I'm a softie for a great Christmas book, are On Christmas Eve, and A Small Miracle. Gorgeous.

  3. Wow thank you Sarah. They are splendiferous books! Peter Collington is definitively on the list :). What a great Artist! Thanks so much for pointing him out! He has a new fan (me) :)

  4. Great and highly educational story. I like the "fossilized" feel in the last picture. ( and because of lines and color, I have to think of Da Vinci...) Are you going to do more in this way?
    I am wondering if you you ever heard something about entombed vegetables...It could be interesting as well.....

    (There are many wordless books , I think even many written books are actually "wordless".... they are full of written words but actually they say nothing.....)
    But I would recommend you book of "Artichoke in the hole", by A.I. Jokken, and
    "Unexplained world of Entombed Artichoke" bu A.R.T. Isjokken. Both books are quite nicely illustrated... ;)

  5. Poor, poor toads. I used to make little caves for them with flat rocks because I was told that toads like having their own houses. I like the style of these illos. Kind of a cross between computer and pencil, but I especially like the frog and its colors. So glad to see you back in action!!

  6. Hi Andrew, thank you for sharing your beautiful work. As always the illustrations are wonderful and full of realistic detail.
    I have a wordless book to add to your list: The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher by Molly Bang. She is a clever storyteller and artist.
    So nice to see your work again.

  7. I feel sad for the toads but it is great to see you are back posting, I love the lines on this drawing.

  8. Gosh, Andrew..your illustrations are just getting even better and better but they were already stellar as is. I love the feel of this close up. The tones, texture, the pop of color, the detail work on his outfit...all combine to make this such a memorable piece. I see this as a cover for a book. Perhaps the boy is a re-telling of Pinocchio? (I don't know but I just see Pinocchio in him!: ) ) Anyhoo, I digress...how interesting about the toads in the hole for a year, and then another. I enjoyed your comments about bunning your hair first..you are so funny. It is wonderful you are back. Though you've been healing, you sure have been working hard on your craft, and it shows. Your previous post is hilarious too!...and I just love that robot. Reminds me of Lost in Space. : ) Glad you are back my friend!

  9. Chaque matin je sauve des petits crapauds venus plonger dans la piscine... Ils ne parviennent plus à ressortir de l'eau !
    Ils font les morts lorsque sortis de l'épuisette ils se retrouvent sur la terre ferme!

    J'aime beaucoup tes dessins et le regard scrutateur de ton personnage. Je ne dirai rien en ce qui concerne la grenouille-crapaud!, elle ou il est mon copain !

    Gros bisous.

  10. I adore your sketchy look! Of your drawing, of course. Not that YOU look sketchy. Mostly. :) The textures remind me of Brian Selznick's books. I have much to learn from young Mr. Buckland. I am currently in the middle of my own experiment: how long can I stay buried in rock before I go nuts or expire? I must bun my hair.

    You have a fabulous list. The only ones I can recommend, you already have. Thanks for making your list available, though!

  11. Vazeny priteli, Vase umeni je skvele. Vzdy zde nalezam zajimave veci. Seznam knih je rozsahly ale zdaleka neni kompletni. Poslu vam take nejake tituly mych oblibenych knih. (musim je nejprve vyhledat)
    Krasny pozdrav ze zeme brambor, skla a piva.

  12. Wonderful Andrew. I'll stop back by tomorrow, but I wanted to say that I'm really liking the sketchy stuff. So glad you are back to posting :D

  13. Tan's The Arrival... of course :)
    and all of a sudden i miss you!

    btw it's still me.

  14. 'The Invention of Hugo Cabret' by Brian Selznick(?). Not really a 'wordless' book. More like half a wordless book. It's a very thick book, but a wonderful story. The movie did a good job capturing the essence of the book, but the book is better (the book always is). If you decided to read the book, I must warn you, 'do not look ahead at the pictures!'. That would ruin everything.

    Too bad about the toads.

  15. Also, 'Wonder Struck' by Brian Selznick. Another great huge tome, but magical in its own way.

  16. Oh, your absence was strong, but the joy of your return is stronger, Andrew! Your sense of humour, the unexpected, untrivial approaches to the themes, the masterful pictures... I have no experience with toads, I'm a "town's" child.:) I just remember the dissection we made in biology class and it's enough...:( But the drawing is great! The different style, using pencils - I like that!
    I hope we are going to see you again soon! Take care and do not surf!!:0)

  17. I lost your last illos:)They are fantastic and the toad is so cute:)The lion tea make me laugh,maybe beacuse I think at little biscuits with men form to have with the tea:)
    Great list of books:)

  18. Wow. You commented on my blog almost a month ago, and somehow I missed it. I guess I've been out of town for most of this past month, but still.....

    What an odd story about burying frogs. I would never find them again either. I wonder that he didn't feel bad for the frogs that he was murdering. (Actually this reminds me of a horrible horrible German film about a guy--basically a decent guy with a family--who to prove to himself that anyone could do evil, kidnapped a woman at a rest stop, and buried her alive. Most of the film is her boyfriend trying to figure out what happened, and finally the guy contacts him, and says that if he goes with him, and drinks this coffee from a thermos he will let him know what happened to her. So he does (he's obsessed, because he was at the rest stop with her), and he wakes up to find himself buried. It totally gives me the heebie-jeebies.

    But you've shifted your style to be much more textural. I like it, though I LOVE the rich colors and depth of your other stuff.

    I'm glad you are back in order, and now I will go look at all your posts that I have obviously missed this past month.

  19. You are so crazy...love it!!

  20. Thank you very much for the wonderful surprise. No, I did not see you at all. :)

  21. Hello, Andrew! I hope you are well and have not got lost somewhere in between Blogland and Realityland!:)))

  22. I am gone for a bit and you change your whole style???!! Ha, good to stop by and see what you've been up to buddy. The "sketchy" look is very cool! Burried my brother once, I pounded a stake in the ground so that I could find him the next day. He still has a scar on his thigh where the stake went in. :o)

  23. Have you seen "The Mysteries of Harris Burdick" by Chris Van Allsburg, Andrew? Almost wordless and wonderfully strange. There's a sequel of sorts which contains stories that lots of people have written to match Allsburg's story-less images.
    Love the drawing/painting style on this post's art!


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