A Review of "Frog and Friends" in Great Kid Books
Finding books that work just right for new readers is a tricky business, as many families know. Children who are new to reading on their own often want humor, surprises and twists in the plot – and yet they need fairly straightforward books that are easy to grasp. The wonderful Eve Bunting, author of more than 250 children’s books, has started a new series for beginning readers: Frog and Friends. This lovely series is designed for newly independent readers who are ready for short chapter books, much like the classic Little Bear books and Frog and Toad books.Frog and Friends by Eve Bunting illustrated by Josee Masse I Am a Reader series MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2011 ages 4 – 7 available at your local library, favorite bookstore and on Amazon
Frog and his forest friends will bring a smile to your face as they explore their world, stumble across strange discoveries and figure out how to solve problems. With three short, independent chapters, Bunting and Masse have created a group of friends that feel at once familiar and fresh.
Each story has just the right amount of twist or surprise to keep new readers hooked. In the first story, Frog and his friends discover a huge orange THING. Well, the reader knows at once that it’s a balloon, but the fun is watching Frog and his friends investigate this strange thing, getting lifted high up into the sky (bringing on memories of Pooh Bear floating away on a balloon), and then confounded when it pops on a spiky tree branch. The second and third stories require Frog to engage in some creative problem-solving skills, with an unwanted present and an over-sized visitor. Each of the stories can be read on its own. This helps new readers feel like they are reading a “chapter book”, and yet they do not need to carry the plot from one chapter to the next. Masse’s illustrations, with their bright colors and cartoon feel, play off Bunting’s humor perfectly and will appeal to young readers.Frog and Friends: Party at the Pond by Eve Bunting illustrated by Josee Masse MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2011 ages 4-7 available at your local library, favorite bookstore and on Amazon
With the second in this new series, Bunting continues the same balance of humor and friendship. In the first story, Frog invites a new animal to his party, a chameleon that he thinks is lonely. Although his friends aren’t sure they want to accept the chameleon, Frog is determined to welcome this new friend. With a happy twist, the chameleon discovers how much fun the other animals have with his trick of changing colors.
In my favorite story of the lot, “No Kisses for Frog”, a little girl captures Frog determined to turn him into her fairy tale prince. She is shocked that Frog does not want to turn into a prince! Well, no more shocked than Frog is that she is going to kiss him! Readers will laugh at the way that Frog cleverly convinces this thoroughly modern girl that playing soccer and climbing tress is much more fun than being a princess and sitting properly at long dinners.
Once again, Bunting uses simple language, repetition and patterning of language, and humor to engage new readers in these stories about friendship. I will certainly be recommending this to our 1st and 2nd grade teachers.
—Mary Ann Scheuer