‘Stack me,’ said Limpy. ‘This is my lucky day.’ He hopped closer through the long grass for a better squiz. There were three of them. Big ones.
I love having a job where you have to do research. You sit at your desk letting ideas flit around in your imagination like those jungle insects that burrow under your skin and lay eggs, and the next thing you know you’ve decided to write a new book that requires, sigh, research.
Before you can start writing you’ve got to read lots of other books so you know what you’re writing about. Books that take you to places you’ve never been to. Books that change you forever.
That’s how it was for me with Toad Away. Once I’d had the idea of Limpy and Goliath and Charm discovering that cane toads originally came from the Amazon jungle in South America, and Limpy figuring that perhaps that’s where he might find some ancient cane toad wisdom about how to make friends with humans, and the three of them setting off on the biggest journey of their lives, I realised I needed to find out about the Amazon rainforest myself, urgently.
I’d heard about the burrowing insects, which is why I decided to do my research in a reading chair rather than crawling through the jungle with family life taking place under my elbow skin.
It was lots of fun, and very interesting, and quite frequently gobsmacking. Here are some of the books I read.
Journey Of The Pink Dolphins by Sy Montgomery
In The Heart Of The Amazon by Nick Gordon
Mad White Giant by Benedict Allen
Vanishing Paradise - The Tropical Rainforest by Stephen Dalton, George Bernard & Andrew Mitchell
In Trouble Again by Redmond O'Hanlon
Through Jaguar Eyes by Benedict Allen
A note of warning if you choose to read any of these books as well as Toad Away. I may, as you might discover, have exaggerated a few things in Toad Away. Not the jungle stuff, but other stuff. For example, getting to the Amazon rainforest by hiding in the overhead luggage compartment of an Airbus A380 might be a bit harder than I’ve suggested.