Monday, March 14, 2011

The Sad Blue Frog -- first children's book reviewed on this blog.....

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):   This books is the first in a series called The Madison Street Tales. It's beautifully illustrated and the story is told in wonderful, lyrical rhyme. It's about a frog that is sad because he's blue, but the other animals he runs across during his day teach him that being different isn't a bad thing.

And here's what I thought:  Let me preface my thoughts by explaining that while I usually would not review a children's book for my blog, the author contacted me, and she seemed so nice that I agreed to review this.   I'm not a children's librarian, and I don't have children of my own (although I have a young niece and nephew), so please keep in mind that my opinion of the book is most likely colored by that.

My first impression of this book was that it would make for a wonderful read-aloud, where you could show a child the illustrations while you're reading.  The book is written in poem format, and has a nice syncopation to it.  It gives a good message that it's okay to be different, and that there is always somewhere for anyone who is different to fit in.  You can tell the story is very personal to the author, especially when you read about her and why she wrote this book.  It's clear that she has given loving attention to the story, and made it very personal.

The illustrations in the book are very soft and watercolor-y.  They are very simple, and compared to some picture book illustrations, they look a bit unsophisticated.  But does this detract from the book?  I don't believe so.  I felt the art completely suited the simple rhymes of the story.  The ant looks especially friendly, and I could see an afternoon spent playing with watercolors, drawing and painting ants (maybe I'll do this with my niece).

I will note, as an adult reading this story, two things did strike an odd note.  The punctuation is a bit odd, as seen from the example on the first page:  "Why are you sad?" asked a voice from the Ground. Why capitalize Ground?  This is something continuous throughout the story.   As an adult who reads (and has written) poetry, it catches my eye, and I found it a bit distracting.   The other odd note is that the Blue Frog, who is unhappy about the fact that it is blue, keeps mentioning "the others are green and I am blue"-- but there are no other frogs in the illustrations.  This leaves us to assume that this frog lives somewhere where all frogs are green, and that to be blue is unheard of.  It would help to have a few other frogs in at least one illustration, especially if this is being read aloud to a child, and you're looking at the illustrations together.  I don't need a big group of them, laughing at the blue one, but maybe just two on the side would help give a little perspective.

Overall, this is a sweet book, and I can see it being perfect to read to and with a child.   That being said, writing this review has made me realize that reviewing children's books might not be my strong suit (unless it's a book from my own childhood that I choose to spotlight).  However, it was enjoyable to change things up and do something completely different.
this is a poison dart frog. Quite blue.
First sentence: "On an autumn day in the courthouse square Sat a sad blue frog in a high-backed chair."

Thoughts on the cover:  Shows the soft-looking blue frog, and the happy ant, with nice bright colors.


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to comment!

Please note that I am officially designating this blog an award-free zone. Thank you!!

Blog Design by Use Your Imagination Designs using images from the Before the First Snow kit by Lorie Davison