A Frog Thing
by Eric Drachman; illustrated by James Muscarello
by Deb Clark
Children are literal creatures, and evidently so are young frogs, or at least the one in this book. Little Frank has been told by his parents he can do anything he sets his mind to. What Frank wants to do most is fly, which leaves mom and dad frog the unenviable task of scaling back on their initial encouragement. Flying, they explain, is not a frog thing. Swimming and hopping, those are frog things. But flying, that’s more of a bird thing.
Frank, refusing to let his dream be shattered by the crushing weight of reality, becomes even more determined to fly. He keeps trying, leaping and flapping and flapping and leaping. But it’s some courageous swimming by Frank that leads a grateful bird to help him soar through the sky. In the end, Frank accepts his limitations and devotes himself to becoming a great swimmer.
The soft yet vividly colored illustrations, rendered in gouache paint (a type of watercolor – I had to look it up), colored pencil and pastel, are charming. I especially enjoyed how skillfully and humorously the characters’ expressions and body language conveyed their emotions – a real advantage for young children who don’t yet read.
The book comes with a well-executed CD containing a dramatic reading of the story accompanied by sound effects and music. Drachman is the author of three other books, including the award-winning Leo the Lightning Bug and Ellison the Elephant.
A Frog Thing is a sweet story and a good one for kids. It’s a lesson that all children must eventually learn, while also a tough one for parents to impart. I want my daughters to believe, at least for a few, charmed years, that they can do anything they set their minds to, including becoming mermaids or finding fairies in the lawn or having their favorite superhero come to live with us so they can save the world together.