My soon-to-be 14-year-old, Max 
I didn't have a picture of a toad, but my French encyclopedia tells me that "crapaud" is synonymous with "prince"... and what mom doesn't think that much of her own son? Meet Max, my 13-year-old. Max is in charge of writing today's story. Enjoy his bi-lingual column, below! PS: Max detests this photo but has given me permission to use it... in exchange for one blue star! Would you like Max to explain the star system that we have recently incorporated into our routine? Perhaps that would make for a good future story?

Soap Temptations for you (and me!):
Traditional French Wall Soap holder and Marseilles soap (this one is on my wish list!)

For little kids: Globe-Toddlers Adventures in France!

un crapaud (krah-poh) noun, masculine

    : toad

More about les crapauds in this Wikipedia entry:
Le juvénile est têtard puis crapelet. Les crapauds coassent, sifflent ou flûtent." The young crapaud is a tadpole, then a "crapelet". Toads croak, whistle or..." (play the flute?...)

As you can see, I had a little difficulty translating the above example. Feel free to share your own interpretation, in the comments box. Do you know of any "crapaud" terms or expressions? Anything "crapaud" related is welcome in the comments box!

Les drôles de crapauds
par Maxime Espinasse

Un soir j'étais avec ma grand-mère quand des crapauds coassaient dans ma piscine (elle est tellement sale, personne n'ose la laver !). Ma grand-mère était tellement fatiguée qu'elle m'a dit « I can hear your mom talking ». J'ai rigolé et je lui ai expliqué que c'était des crapauds. Ils coassaient tellement fort que c'était embêtant pour dormir. Bref, on aurait dit qu'ils jouaient à cache-cache et quand un crapaud trouvait l'autre ça faisait beaucoup de bruit. Quels drôles de crapauds!

English version :
One night I was with my grandmother when the toads were croaking in my swimming pool (it is so dirty that no one dares to clean it!). My grandmother was so tired that she said to me "I can hear your mom talking." I laughed and I explained to her that those were toads. They were croaking so loud that it was difficult to sleep. In short, you would have thought they were playing hide-n-seek and that when one toad found the other it made a lot of noise. What curious crapauds!

                                    *   *   * The End (Croak!) *   *  *

Would you like to read more bi-lingual stories written by Max? Do you know of any other young adults who might enjoy this column, too? Please share French Word-A-Day with a young friend today! Meantime, if you enjoyed today's story, you might leave Max un mot in the comments box. Merci d'avance!

Bench & Flower pot in Sainte Cécile
I love the colors on French walls, the lazy benches, the lace in the windows... and the flowers in this pot. Does anyone know what kind of fleurs these are? Apparently they are easy to care for. I see them everywhere this time of year!

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Joy Steele

Merci, Max, pour your story. I can practice reading French this way! I loved it and it was clever and cute! Joy in USA
p.s and I have always loved les crapauds . . .

Sue in Cape Town , South Africa

I love Max's bilingual story - more please. He is growing so fast!
I also love les crapauds...et les grenouilles!!

Stephanie Lutze

Merci, Max. J'ai habite a Paris depuis 5 ans. J'ai compris tous les mots dans votre histoire sauf deux mots. Ils sont: coassaient et embetant. Mais, j'ai compris le context. Merci bien. Je me debrouille ....

s'il vous plait......encore! C'est drole!

Christine Dashper

Merci Max, I really enjoyed your story. I am glad you gave maman permission to include your photo. It is a very fine photo.

best wishes

Linda R.

Je vous remercie, Max. On peut dire "Quelle drole d'histoire!"? Cela m'a fait rigoler -it made my morning : ) Les grands-mères sont les meilleures, n'est-ce pas?

Joan Engel, Pennsylvania USA

Max, thank you for your story. I am an almost 60 year old grand-mere who is learing French for my dream trip to your country. I was pleased that I could understand most of your story. That which I couldn't will go on my 'flash cards' and my 'conjugation sheets' to add to my vocabulary. You are a very good writer -- amusing and clear. I hope to read more of your stories in the future.


My Darling and Beautiful MAX,

Your story is wonderful, clever like you are.



Natalie Branchini

Sweet, sweet, sweet story, Max. I don't know why you don't like that gorgeous picture of you. You look EXACTLY like your Mom which is a HUGE compliment.

Debbie Chavers

Thank you, Max. You have shown imagination, a willingness to share your thought process, and a gifted way of making us understand. I suggest a To Be Continued, instead of The End.

Margaret Brown

The white flowers look very much like pelargoniums, more commonly known as geraniums. These in the photo are the trailing variety. They are not winter hardy and should be taken indoors or kept in a frost-free greenhouse over winter. Do not put them back outside until all danger of frost has passed. Cut them back before winter and take cuttings to provide more plants for next year. Do not overwater in winter or they will die!

Try them in pots with a very dark red or purple trailing verbena which should soon be on the market stalls. Treat them the same for overwintering and propagating as the pelargoniums. Happy gardening!!!


Merci, Max -- loved your histoire about les crapauds, quel bon mot! Nous avons les petites "maisons" for them, in les jardins, made of pottery, a place for them to hide. Mais, I have never found un crapaud dans "un maison du crapaud"! Once cleaning debris in my garden I unearthed a toad--there is was in my HAND and I screamed my head off! Peut-etre you would not mind holding un crapaud, pas moi! Avez-vous an expression en francais comme cela? What do you say when you are shocked and disgusted and totally freaking out...like, pour moi, picking up un crapaud by mistake?

It would be very nice to hear more Max Musings in the future. Merci beaucoup!


Thanks for these comments, makes me sow happy.
Merci pour ces commentaires, sa me fait tellement plaisir que des personnes comme vous me sollicite.
I'm going to work on my stories, my mom is going to show you another one soon.
Je vais travailler sur mes histoires, ma mère va vous en montrer une autre bientôt.


For Pat
We can say "Ha c'est dégeulasse" thats more for the young people it means "Ha, its so yucky"!

Teresa Engebretsen

I hope you won't mind if I use your text with my 8th grade French class! They are studying the imparfait now and your story has great examples. If you would ever like a penpal (or several), I am sure that some of my students would love to write to a "real" French person their age!
Merci beaucoup!
Teresa Engebretsen

Juliette Hudson

Merci Max. I was born in Louisiana, many who speak French there have changed some of the words(but not all) When my husband went hunting with some of my relatives, who are Cajuns, he told me they called frogs 'wa-wa-ron' because that is what they sound like. Although I took French languages are not my forté, so I didn't do well. My parents spoke French to each other but never in front of me. Sad, so sad.

Keep writing.

Juliette Préjean Hudson


Thank you for responding to Max's story!

Margaret : Glad to know the name of this flower! A lady "of a certain age" in the town of Rasteau has offered me cuttings. Now to go back and collect them! Thank you for the care instructions :-) I *love* the way they trail. Now to look into those purple and red verbena...

Natalie: merci beaucoup!

Ally Barton

Guernsey people refer to Jersey dwellers as crapauds - in return, the Guernsey people are termed 'donkeys' - in the nicest way, of course. Thanks for a lovely story.

Marie La Salle

I call my husband "the gondolier" because he is always out with a long broom sweeping the pool ... sinon ..."Ha c'est dégeulasse"...avec des crapauds partout... however...we have 4 cats who love "cuisses de crapaud" or anything else they can get their paws on...


Max -- What a great, funny story and so well written. Am going to send it to a friend pf mine who teaches French.

You obviously inherited some of your mother's talent for writing. Please keep writing!

Mille fois merci!


I learned something from you Max, so your posting was not in vain. The french word for the very brief english word "so" is "tellement". I look forward to reading more of your musings.


Thanks for your story, Max. It was short but amusing. Have fun writing! :-)

Diane Stanley

In Oak Ridge, New Jersey, we hear the frogs every night, starting in the spring time and lasting generally through August. They make quite a concert and get very loud when the weather becomes really warm. We also have tree frogs that sing away and bull frogs that are really loud.

Thank you, Max, for your lovely story.


Merci, Max. C'est drole et facile pour moi a comprendre. SVP beaucoup plus des histoires.


I Liked it so much, we need more of these!!! Not just for younger readers, everyone will enjoy more of these. PLEASE**** we want more stories from Max :)

Bill Geery

Great story, Max. My daughter-in-law in Massachusetts decided to get rid of their above-ground swimming pool for the same reason: there were frogs (not toads) "growing" in their swimming pool and the neighborhood boys were over trying to catch them.

What bothered me about your story, though, was your grandmother thinking the toads were your mother talking. Is your mother's new found ability to delegate causing stress between them that your grandmother thinks your mother sounds like a toad?


Max, nice job--I liked your story quite a lot. I lived in France in the 60's and, occasionally, I feel that my spoken French SOUNDS LIKE the 60's! It's good to read current colloquial phrasings like yours (not to mention my first encounter with "coasser", which I'd never have picked up on my own!) Hope you'll write more.


Merci for the story , Max! It is funny! I am going to pass it on to my daughter, Busy, who is 14 and taking her first year of French. Please write more!

Rich Gundlach

Max, I too liked your story and I appreciate the parallel text. I am 64 with only moderate skills in the french lanquage so the parallel text helps me confirm my understanding plus learn new vocabulary. I envy you for living and growing up in France, plus being raised truely bilingual. I hope you continue writing. You're very good at it and it will get easier the more you practice.

Merci beacoup!

Rich - USA

Cynthia Pierce

Max, great story and I would love more bi-lingual stories...it helps to practice reading side-by-side comme ca.


Cynthia - USA


In the photo of storyteller Max, I love the "non-chalant" wheelbarrow, toting a twisted vine, perhaps the eagle has been captured, beaucoups talons! Remembrance of FWaDs past. (Pardon-moi!)

Candy Witt

Merci pout la petite histoire, Max. C'est mignon (est-ce qu'on peut dire ca pour une histoire? - certainement pour les crapauds!) Mais est-ce qu'il y a un sense idiomatique pour ce mot aussi? J'adore la France et j'espere y habiter dans quelques annees.

Mary Certa

Apres avoir lu toutes ces histoires, je me rends compte qu'il y a peu de choses que je peux ajouter. Mais je veux t'encourager; je voudrais que tu continues a ecrire afin que nous, tes lecteurs, puissent travailler la langue et avoir un point de vue different. Merci!!


Max..what a neat story!

J'ai un petit- fils qui se nomme Max (Maxime)..il a 20 mois..c'est le petit frère de Lucas.. il sera le grand frère d'un noubeau bébé au mois de septembre..

Years ago..I lived near a man-made lake and les crapauds coassaient all night at one point in the season..

Your story is amusing and charming.
Thanks for sharing it.
PS I really like that photo of you..

Plse tell your mom I bought the soap she is recommending in Bonnieux at the market last September and we really like it.


Thank you Max! While you practice your English, I can practice my French. Merci.


Thanks, Max. Your story amused me and I'm grateful you wrote it in both tongues.

Fred Caswell

Hi, Max! It has been said that writing is the best way to master a language. I am a believer . Maybe your next petit histoire could include your very own version en englais!

I know why you do not like this picture of you.

How are your ping-pong skills developing?

You are facing some very challenging years in the near future. For your benefit, PLEASE REMEMBER THAT THERE ARE NO OTHER PERSONS IN THIS WORLD WHO LOVE YOU MORE AND WHO WILL GIVE YOU THE BEST ADVICE THAN YOUR TWO WONDERFUL PARENTS (maybe your grand-mere, too).

Peut-etre I'll get to see you once more. If the body will allow, you will have another chance to show your ping-pong skills a moi.

You're great, Max.

Tom, Glen Gardner NJ

Merci, Max! Votre histoire était a l a meme temp tres interessant et amusant. Merci de la lecon.


Wonderful, I love to read youres comments I am so imprest how many of peaple liked my storie I promis I continue !

Cheryl, St Louis

Merci, Max! Ta petite histoire bilingue m'a beaucoup plu. J'espère que tu continueras à nous écrire de temps en temps.


Max, votre petite histoire des crapauds était charmante et comique! Merci! J'ai sourié. Je voudrais que vous écriviez plus! :)

Tom Hutchison

Thanks, Max. We need more words like toad. Do you know this line from Shakespeare's As You Like It?
"Sweet are the uses of adversity which like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head." (Duke Senor, Act 2, Scene 1)


merci max! j'aime le mot 'crapaud'. merci aussi de l'histoire


Thank you Max! You certainly have gotten a great response to your writing! When I saw the word "crapaud" I thought uh, oh, it sounds like something really bad. Pauvres crapauds!
Writing is the ultimate skill to master in a foreign language, good job!
Sally, retired French teacher

Annabelle and Bill

Cher Max,
An excellent story! Please write again.We wish we could speak in French as well as you do in English!
It was a pleasure to meet you! A bientot,
Annabelle et Bill


Thank you, Max. I very much enjoyed your story. I only wish "les crapauds" would disturb my sleep. We used to have toads around here, but I haven't seen any in several years. sigh

Henry Lambert

re: expressions relating to "les crapauds".

During the Napolenic Wars, French soldiers were referred to as "crapauds" by the British soldiers. French soldiers called British soldiers "rossboeufs" (roast beefs).

Mary Pace

Merci, Max, pour le bon lecon francais,la petite histoire des crapauds. You tell a good story, and I enjoyed it very mucch. Je suis grandmere de l'etat (pas la ville) de Washington, a USA. S'il te plait, ecris encore tot. A bientot.

Janet Gottsacker

Merci Max, I too enjoyed (trying) to read your story in French first and then in English. My son does the same for me, he lives in Lyon but we are Americans. And I am learning French so that I can take care of myself when I stay with him for the month of October. Please post again!

Ned Harris

I first came across the term "crapaud" in Bernard Corwell's terrific series about Mr. Sharpe, during the war between the British and French in the 1800s (Wellington, Napoleon, et al. - but from the point of view of the soldier in the ranks). "Crapauds" was the slang term used by the British for the French - and the French referred to the British as "les rosbifs" or "les goddams" !

Lynette Simser

Max -

In Minneapolis Minnesota we find des crapauds in our window wells from which they are unable to escape. My son, who is about your age, loves to rescue them and set them free at the pond. People tell him he looks like his mom too. Your stories are great fun to read. Keep up the good work. I'm jealous of your bilingual talent!

P.S. I met your dad last weekend at the wine tasting! I bet you're glad he's home.

Jo Ellen Brainin-Rodriguez

Merci, Max! J'aimerai lire plus des histoires bilangues...ils sont drôles et en plus, ça m'aide à aprendre mieux le français.
J'attend tes histoires...
À bientôt,
Jo Ellen


Merci bien, Max! J'aime beaucoup ton histoire. Je voudrais que tu ecrire un autre! Merci un autre fois.


Le sujet dans mon email etait "Jardinage". Quel plaisir de trouver les crapauds la dedans! Merci, Max.

Michael Armstrong

Merci, Max, pour une très bonne petite histoire! Vous avez du talent. Pour Juliette Préjean: on peut trouver des crapauds en Louisiane (où j'ai grandi aussi)mais des ouaouaron sont plus grands; ils sont vraiment des grenouilles et le mot ouaouaron est un mot qui vient des indiens d'Amerique. On trouve dans le français cadien (cajun) beacoup de mots indiens et africains (gumbo, jambalaya, etc.). Crapaud=toad;grenouille (ouaouaron)=frog or bullfrog.


The bilingualer the better, if you ask me.

Marianne Rankin

Merci de la petite histoire des crapauds, et en deux langues! Bravo! Comme ca devrait etre bon, etre bilingue. Croyez-vous que l'anglais soit difficile? Le francais me parait facile, mais parce que je suis anglophone de naissance, je fais des efforts pour le perfectionner - et le French Word-A-Day m'y aide.

J'attends avec impatiences d'autres histoires. Et Jackie voudrait-elle aussi en encrire quelques-unes?

Marianne Rankin

Et peut-etre la prochaine fois, vous pourrez expliquer le systeme d"etoiles bleues."

Bill Pratt

What a charming story.
Just one thing though (someone correct me if I'm wrong). The creatures that are croaking in the pool are most likely frogs and not toads. Toads live their adult life entirely on land. 'Toad' is a much more colorful and amusing word -- and helps make the story such a success.
Good job Max.


Hi Max...LOVE your story especially the bit where your "grand-mere" thought the chatter of the toads was your Mom talking!
We also have little native "grenouilles" in our garden that like to hide in the bushy grasses and croak very loudly to each other. I like listening to the sound of them as it means summer is coming even though there are SOME in my family that complain the noise keeps them AWAKE ALL NIGHT!!

Did you also do the english translation? Well done!! :-)


Encore, Max! Now could we read about the blue star and the star system?

Are the flowers geraniums?


Hi Max,
Great story! I love to guess what you're saying in French and then get the full story in the English version.
I don't know what's worse - hearing or SEEING crapauds...small ones stick to the windows at my parent's house in the summer - seeing their bellies from inside the house - yuck!!


Yes - I would LOVE to read more bilingual stories, from Max or anyone else! I find that reading both translations of a story helps me learn my vocabulary more easily. Thanks for the toad story Max!

Lary Marler

Nicely done Max! I'm studying French and your side by side French/English versions are very helpful to me. Please write more often and keep up the good work!


Fabulous Max! And yes, we'd love to hear about the blue stars.


Thanks Max. I didn't know cache-cache meant hide and seek. I'll use that next time in Montreal. I don't know why you detest the photo: you look like a fine guy, and that's an interesting table with that cross piece near the cork. Nice weather too. I guess that's an old vine in the wheelbarrow. BTW, if you decide to pursue a writing career, you can now publish your own book through this website (France has a truly great literary tradition - 16 French or French language writers have won the Nobel Prize in Literature):



Karen from Phoenix, AZ


thank you so much for your wonderful story. I loved it. Can't wait
to read more.

Anne Brixner

Chapeau, Max! Ton histoire m'a beaucoup plu! Nous avons des milliers de crapauds chez nous à Whidbey Island, et j'adore les entendre chanter la nuit. J'espère t'inviter là-bas un de ces jours avec ta soeur et tes parents. Je sais que ta maman connait bien l'isle (et peut-etre ses crapauds!).

La suite au prochain numéro...
Anne et Mike de Seattle


Max! I loved your story very much and hope you write more soon! It made me think of the book 'Frog and Toad are Friends' which I hope you have read? It is hilarious. Anyways, looking forward to your next story... it was a fun french lesson!


Jill Leach

Where I live in the northern part of Australia,Cane Toads were imported several decades ago from Hawaii in an attempt to eradicate insect pests in the sugar-cane industry...malheureusement the toads have become the PESTS as they are poisonous to other wildlife.They have travelled thousands of kilometres across Australia and are very much detested.

Stephanie in Webster

I'm a teacher of students your age. A few years ago during class I watched two boys looking into a backpack, on and off throughout the class. What was it? I worried about a weapon or drugs (These are difficult times for teachers). At is turned out, it was a toad. The boys were amazed when I picked it up and released it outdoors!


Bonjour Max,
Félicitations! Tu es vraiment un jeune homme doublement doué de charme et de talent d'écrire comme une certaine femme dans ta famille! C'est sûr que j'en aimerais lire de plus, tel que je vais partager ce passage avec les élèves au lycée dans mes cours de français. Ma fille Audrey (5 ans) est bilingue et également impressionnée par les deux vérsions. Elle a dit, "Whoa! Il vit en France et il parle les deux langues comme moi!" Bonne continuation!


You are so clever Max....Well done...A chip off the old block....I enjoyed reading your little story!!

PJ Daly

Super, Max! J'etais contente de lire votre histoire!!

Noreen C.

Le récit était bien intéressant et drôle à lire! Merci, Max! J'aime aussi la photo..


I think the flowers are geraniums. They are everywhere here in SoCal. Thanks for the story Max, my two little girls really enjoyed it and had a nice laugh.


I think the flowers look like something we have here in Georgia (US); they're called 'Wave petunias.' It makes sense too b/c wave petunias are so easy-like you said-, you just water them and leave them. They champion on all summer!


Max - thank you for such an amusing story! Writing is in your future perhaps! How lucky you are to be bi-lingual....I look forward to the next story from you.


La bave du crapaud n'atteint pas la blanche colombe..... Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.


Merci encore for your wonderful encouragements for Max! He has been busy writing a few more stories.

Peter: Thanks for the great dicton. What a picture it paints! Would that be "the slobber (drool) of a toad does not reach the white dove"?


Les crapaud ...notre vosin avons des crapauds dans sa picines aussi,

Ils coassaient toujours au cours de mating season. L'autre voisine has a hard time sleeping pendant c'est temp. La picine est très sale. Elle n'avait pas netrtoyyer pour 5 ou 6 annes.

I know I have made mistakes in my writing, but I am still studying french.

Nice photo Max and you do resemble your Mom.


Max awesome job! Your bi-langue style really helps my french!


Hi Kristin,

Your translation was spot on...but proverbs are not always a perfect match! Check out this excellent site:


Happy Easter


Susan B.

I know that you have a young Maxette, but I pray that she looks nothing like the handsome Max. Oh My!!
Lirrle Bert

Ken Boyd

Good for you Max ! To speak a foreign language well at your age
is a real accomplishment . I hope you use it as a tool to enrich
your life . As a frequent traveller to France [ mostly Loire Valley ] I
would find it useful myself . I enjoy this site and will pass it along !
Ken Boyd

Trudy Taylor


I enjoyed your story tellement! Does "Le Crapaud aux Lunettes" still exist? Many years ago (presque 40) I was a university student in Switzerland. The above mentioned title was a children's paper, the American equivalent of which was the "Weekly Reader". As I have always been an avid frog/toad collector, I was just curious if you'd ever heard of it.

Lara Hollingworth

Dear Max,
I loved your story!! I'm 13, english and I have been living in France for nearly 4 years ! In summer down here in the South of France at night they are really very load so you hve to shout whe you speak if you are outside!! If you would like a penpal I am looking for one and I know we both live in France and that kind of defeats the pupose but it coud be fun!!
Please write more!!

Janine Cortell

Bonsoir Max:
J'ai tellement aime ton histoire de crapauds. J'attends avec impatience ta prochaine petite histoire.
Merci mille fois, Janine Cortell

Marlene Maginski

Kristin... I hope I'm not too late to comment on crapaud. I think you have another writer in the family. I've given those flowers some thought, and I think they may be Lady Banks roses. They don't look like roses, so are deceiving. They bloom in Spring, and are carefree and glorious in profusion. They basicly climbers.

Carol Rizzo

The flowers in the photo are petunias.

Annette Heat

Joyeux anniversaire, Max!!!! I can never forget as my own is the same day. This year I will be going to see my granddaughter graduate from the College of William and Mary. It will be a happy occasion. I am sure your BD will be equally happy. Let us know how you spend it.

Kudos to you for your little story which shows just how clever and creative you are.
I loved your photo. I think you look like your Mother. What do you think? You are a very handsome young man. I am sure your Grandmere misses you!

Annette Heath (LeDoux)


Tres bien Max!

Je pensais que le histoire etait vrai.

J' l'aimais.

Helen Miller,
Philadelphia, PA USA


Loved it, Max. So funny about your grandmere mistaking the toads croak for your mother's voice. :)

Jules Greer

MAX writes from his heart, just as his Mom Kristi.

This is a true story - I remember this moment years ago when I thought Kristi was talking out by the pool.



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