Vanguard Spotlight Book of the Month: October 2015

Monthly Reads from ASU-Beebe Students, Faculty and Staff.

Faculty/Staff/Student Favorites

Each month Abington Library will feature a favorite book from a faculty, staff member, or student. They will give a brief synopsis of their chosen book. All books featured are available for check-out at the library. 

Featured ASU-Beebe Staff Member: Jason Marzewski


About Jason

Jason is the Institutional Printer at ASU-Beebe.

About the Book


On a warm autumn night when he should have been sound asleep like his neighbors, Toad strutted out of his log cabin, clambered atop a gargantuan mushroom, and, illuminated by the spotlight of the moon, took center stage and began to sing with all his might: “I was born in the swamp!  Nee-ee swamp!  Nee-ee swamp!  And the swamp is where I live!  Nee-ee swamp!  Nee-ee swamp!”

Meet Personal ToadTM, a vibrant, enthusiastic little character with a big mouth.  It isn’t that his mouth is physically larger than any other toad’s mouth, but rather that he talks and sings too much, and he never thinks before he speaks or sings, nor does he care to; Toad simply lets everything that comes to his mind escape through his big mouth.

However, in his first reading adventure, Toad Meets His Forever-Friend, Toad soon learns an unpleasant lesson about controlling his big mouth during the course of a colorful reading story that involves a daring rescue, being encased in mud, and meeting Chicken, a compassionate, white hen, who becomes his caring Forever-Friend. 

Personal Toad and Chicken stories delight and entertain young readers, yet are intended to help children build and maintain their vocabularies as they discover the meanings of the underlined words that are sprinkled throughout the narrative, which are then clearly defined in Personal Toad and Chicken’s Little Brown Dictionary - the “book within a book” - featured at the end of each story!

Personal Toad and Chicken’s Little Brown Dictionary includes at least one definition for each word found in the story.  Personal Toad and Chicken’s Little Brown Dictionary should be viewed as a colorful story companion that encourages adults to introduce children to the joys of looking up the meanings of words in a regular dictionary.  In short, adults should think of a real dictionary as a bicycle, Personal Toad and Chicken’s Little Brown Dictionary as a really fun set of training wheels, and Toad Meets His Forever-Friend as a colorful friend and guide that propels kids toward great verbal success!



I believe that education should be fun and that it should begin at an early age, and scientific research confirms this. In his article, Understanding Brain Development in Young Children, Sean Brotherson, Family Science Specialist, NDSU Extension Service explains that, “the ‘prime time’ for language development and learning to talk is from birth to 10 years of age. Children are learning language during this entire period. However, the ‘prime time’ for language learning is the first few years of life. Children need to hear you constantly talk, sing, and read to them during these early years. Respond to their babbling and language efforts.”

My parents fostered my love of words: Before I was in first grade, my mother had read aloud to me most of the Bible, every Hardy Boys book available, The Chronicles of Narnia book series, and many other books.  My mom and dad always spoke to me as they would to their peers, using advanced words that helped to build and maintain my vocabulary. They would intentionally use “big words” and then ask me if I knew what each one meant; if I didn’t know a definition, they would take the time to explain the meaning to me in great detail.

In third grade, I scored at a post-high school level on the language and verbal portion of the ACT test; I was elated, my teacher was proud of me, and some of my friends even called me a hero.  At a time when a learning disorder was causing me to have difficulty with my other subjects, I really needed and appreciated this boost to my moral! 
As school became more challenging, I began to take solace in words.  Words gave me self-confidence, stood by me as my allies, and ultimately became my best friends.

I believe in the power, beauty, and value of words: Like life itself, they are a true, blessed gift from God, and tools which He has graciously permitted me to use to earn A’s in grade school, a scholarship in college, jobs of my choosing, and my wife’s affection.

I have read of studies in which parents play classical music for their pre-born babies and infant children in an effort to cultivate their youngsters’ mental faculties.  While I am the first to affirm that Personal Toad and Chicken stories are nowhere near the caliber of Mozart, Bach, and Chopin, my hope and prayer is that children who hear or read these adventures will fall in love with words the way I have, build their vocabularies, and become better and more successful in life as a result.

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