Bee FrogFall 2007 Picture Books
Ages: 3 - 7 yrs.
Author: Martin Waddell
Illustrator: Barbara Firth
Distributor: Candlewick Press
Hardcover Price: $14.99
Review:This brief story follows a well-worn track without much in the way of surprises. A small frog decides that she is not a frog but a dragon. When her shenanigans fail to impress her mother, her father, and then her grandmother, she decides to run away. She lands on a "dark stone with reeds all around it" and proceeds to make "dragon noises all by herself." Predictably, loneliness sets in, mom and pop frog come looking for her, she decides that she's not a dragon after all, and they all hop off home to enjoy "frog tea." The illustrations have a decorative charm, but they also have some limitations. The frogs are cute without being really distinctive. In fact, in several of the illustrations, it is not particularly clear which one of the little green hoppers actually represents the main character. The googly-eyed amphibians all seem to wear the same blandly cheerful smiles further making them seem like a herd rather than individuals. And finally, though the text doesn't necessarily mention it, the frogs are acting out some pretty well-worn human stereotypes: mom is preparing food (a bowl full of worms) while dad reads the newspaper and grandma snoozes in a flower bed. Waddell's books are always appealing, but this is certainly one of the slighter entries in his long list of distinguished titles.
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard ©2007 Parents' Choice
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard is the Coordinator of Youth Services for the Arlington Public Library system. She has taught courses on children’s and young adult literature at the Catholic University of America and the University of Virginia. She has served on both the Newbery and Caldecott Award Committees of the American Library Association and has chaired the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee and the May Hill Arbuthnot Award Committee. She is a member and past president of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC and has chaired the Washington Post–Book Guild Nonfiction Award Committee. She is a founding member of Capitol Choices, an organization of professionals in the field of children’s literature in the greater Washington DC area. She regularly reviews children’s literature and audio productions for a variety of national publications.
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