Five Fantastic Fictional (mostly) Frogs

Lately I’ve had quite the thing for fictional frogs – not the frogs who turn into princes or have just been princes, although those guys are pretty great too.  But no, a thing for the hoppy, happy, stretchy, leapy unpredictable green frogs that make the books they jump into particularly delightful.

My top 5: Books about frogs

1. Stick by Steve Breen

I just found this book at my local library. Stick is Steve Breen’s first picture book (but his talent for words and visual images has not been missed – he won the Pulitzer Prize for his editorial cartoons twice!) How far can one little frog travel? And how? Find out what happens when little Stick happens to get his long tongue stuck to a dragonfly. Up, up and away . . . Silly, delightfully preposterous and gorgeous bird’s (in this case frog!) eye view of town, city and swamp.

2. City Dog, Country Frog written by Mo Willems and illustrated by Jon J Muth

I kept eyeing this book at the library, noticing names Mo Willems and John J Muth and thinking to myself, “I have got to read this book.” Something about the cover picture spoke dog to me and I kept missing the frog, even when I eyed the title I saw dog instead of frog. Finally, I looked a little closer and spotted the frog so perfectly plopped on the dog’s head and I pulled the book off the shelf.  How could I have missed this? I was missing so much! Inside illustrations are mellow, gentle and ahh, what greens. Together with Willems’ simple text, pictures and words tell the tender story of  friendship, the passage of time, young curiousity and calm wisdom. To make up for the months I haven’t been reading this book, I need to read it over and over and over again.

3. Growing Frogs written by Vivian French and illustrated by Alison Bartlett

Such an amazing book to teach about how frogs grow from tadpoles and how exciting this change can be to watch. I call a book like this an “information storybook” – a definite fictional story yet so much factual information it bridges into the non-fiction category. A little girl and her Mom collect frog spawn from the pond and carefully tend to the tadpoles, then frogs who grow. This book took me right back to my eight year old self and my ice cream bucket full of pond water and tadpoles. How I loved it and how sad I was to return my little frogs to their pond again. I love that French points out how carefully you must care for your growing frogs – always using pond water, changing it regularly etc. Allowing children to have important nature experiences respectfully.

4. A Frog Thing written by Eric Drachman and illustrated by James Muscarello

frog thingI have a real soft spot for Frankie the frog in this story. Told by his parents that he can do anything, he sets his mind to flying. Ahem, darling, “that’s a bird thing” explain his parents. He does try very hard to soar through the air but to no avail. One day he sees a baby bird fall helplessly into the pond and swims to its rescue. The grateful mother demands – “How can I repay you?” Well . . . We soon see Freddy flying through the air clutching a twig held by two birds. Finally flying! Exciting, yes. But Freddy realizes that doing the frog thing will suffice for him after all. Beautifully illustrated. A wonderful read aloud to share.

5. Fine As We Are by Algy Craig Hall

Wow, is it great to be a little frog. Having Mama frog all to yourself. Sigh. . . happiness. So what are all of these black spotted blogs in the water? Why do they have tails? Now legs? Oh my! Little frogs. All belonging to Mama. Life with many new siblings is quite the adjustment for our little frog. Annoying at first – how much leaping and tumbling about can these little frogs do? But then, oddly “just right.” The perfect book to explore how life changes when a new sibling (or siblings) arrives.

Jealousy is just a stage, right?

Hop through some frog books this Spring!

Stories that came our way today

Our classroom read aloud mid morning was an information story book to practice asking questions and inferring from our background knowledge.

Caterpillar Caterpillar

Written by Vivian French (author of many favourite information story books) and illustrated by Charlotte Voake, Caterpillar Caterpillar is all about a little girl learning about the caterpillar’s development through the help of her patient and knowledgeable grandfather. We realized our background knowledge related to insects has really grown because of all of our research about walking sticks (our classroom pets). We had lots of questions about the caterpillars shedding their skin and wondered if like stick bugs, they ate their skin? Do they have suction cups on their legs to be able to travel on the underside of leaves? Are the butterfly eggs sticky to stay stuck to the leaves? They must be because they don’t fall off in the rain. But then somebody else pointed out that maybe the eggs are only laid on the underside of leaves to protect them. Can caterpillars spray a substance to keep enemies away like some stick bugs can? Great questions and discussion today!

In the afternoon, we walked to Strathcona Library to visit Ms. Hong and have a story time at our public library! What a great way to fit our daily 30 minutes of physical activity into the school day! And . . . what a wonderful story!


Ms. Hong read us Orange Peel’s Pocket written by Rose Lewis and cheerfully illustrated by Grace Zong. Chang Ming goes in search of answers to the question – What is China like? by wandering into shops and businesses where she can learn more about her cultural heritage. Everyone slips something mysterious into her pocket (how fun to guess what each item might be when Ms. Hong read aloud!) – a poem, a peony, a recipe for noodle soup, etc. Now Orange Peel (Chang Ming) can share her heritage with her classmates.

A lovely end to our day. . . When we returned to class, Edwin shared a drum given to him by his grandfather and showed us a rattle carved from a special tree where eagles nested and gifted to him by his uncle. Sharing of his stories and culture – thank you Edwin!