When facing the deep mysteries of life, many cling to beliefs they’ve acquired secondhand, but not Toaff, the precocious gray squirrel at the heart of Newbery Medalist Cynthia Voigt’s absorbing new novel, Toaff’s Way.
Why do dogs bark? Why do gray and red squirrels fear and hate one another? Brimming with questions and unbridled energy, Toaff bounds into the world to seek his answers firsthand. Whether Toaff is learning the language of dogs or delighting in the songs that human mothers sing to their babies, every day brings a new revelation. On his journey, Toaff learns that the fears that keep most of his peers huddled in their dens are largely illusory. Of course, Toaff’s insatiable curiosity lands him in some rather tight spots, and more often than not, it also makes an outcast of him. But in the end, his curiosity and genuine openness allow him to wiggle out of danger.
Both intriguing and enlightening, Voigt’s squirrel-eye view of the world shows us how even the most mundane things can be revelatory. A hymn to inquisitiveness, independent thinking and experiential learning in an age of “alternative facts” and “fake news,” Toaff’s Way should be required reading.