Series Review: Frog and Toad

FROG AND TOAD ARE FRIENDS

The Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel, which we read in Harper’s Frog and Toad Storybook Treasury, which includes all four Frog and Toad books:

  • Frog and Toad Are Friends
  • Frog and Toad Together
  • Frog and Toad All Year
  • Days with Frog and Toad

Arnold Lobel, 1933-1987, was a children’s book illustrator and writer. He won several awards and praise–including the Caldecott–for books like Frog and Toad Are Friends, Mouse Soup, and Fables. He grew up in Schenectady, New York, went to art school, and married another childrens’ illustrator and writer and had two kids: one boy and one girl. Not much seems to be made of his life, as details are scarce. What we know is that he was talented and prolific, and his writing changed the Early Reader genre.

My son and I actually read this book as part of our virtual school curriculum for second grade. The first book came in the school supplies box and was scheduled for the end of the first semester. I kinda hoped a book about creatures would intrigue my son, but so far he had only liked exactly one series of books in the whole world (and a whopping lifetime total of about three other books (Cleary’s Ramona series, The Day the Crayons Quit, Press Here, and Peek-a-Who)). Both my eight-year-old son and I were pleasantly surprised and soon, we had bought the whole treasury. So while he was discovering Frog and Toad, he also discovered Jack Stalwart, which expanded his enjoyment of books by more than 200 per cent. However, while I was groaning through Jack Stalwart (review forthcoming), I was thoroughly enjoying Frog and Toad.

TOGETHER

TOGETHER

And I think some of the reasons I loved it spring from the time period when it was written, which is also why I enjoyed Ramona. But Frog and Toad seems even more classic, even more gentle, and even more universal. While Frog and Toad are having fun, going on adventures, and encountering trials, they are loyal, kind, respectful, and calm. Boy do I need more of that.

They also embody a type of platonic same-sex friendship that is on the (sad) decline and is oftentimes misunderstood and disrespected in our current culture. Humans were meant for this type of Ruth and Naomi, Anne and Diana relationship which involves a deep level of familiarity (on emotional, spiritual, experiential, and even physical levels). Anymore, it is often relegated just to family (if that). So that’s one of the reasons I love Frog and Toad. I want a friend like that. I have had friends like that. I want my son to grow up to have great, bonded relationships.

I love the pace of the books, the close observation of nature, and the minutiae of a simple life. I love the quiet predictability and the serene way the characters encounter the unexpected. I love the illustrations. I appreciate the clean, un-confused writing and the clean, un-confused watercolors. Clearly, I love Frog and Toad, and so should you.

_______________

Other books by Lobel, which I will be reviewing soon:

  • The Comic Adventures of Old Mother Hubbard and Her Dog
  • The Great Blueness and Other Predicaments
  • Small Pig
  • Owl at Home
  • Grasshopper on the Road
  • A Treeful of Pigs
  • Fables
  • Uncle Elephant
  • Ming Lo Moves the Mountain
  • The Book of Pigericks: Pig Limericks
  • Mouse Soup
  • Mouse Tales

These two books were compiled and colored (by Lobel’s daughter) posthumously:

  • The Frogs and Toads All Sang
  • Odd Owls and Stout Pigs: A Book of Nonsense

These are some more books which are harder to find, and I may not be able to review them for you:

  • The Rose in My Garden
  • The Ice-Cream Cone Coot and Other Rare Birds
  • Lucille
  • A Zoo for Mister Muster
  • A Holiday for Mister Muster
  • Giant John
  • Whiskers and Rhymes
  • On the Day Peter Stuyvesant Sailed Into Town
  • How the Rooster Saved the Day
  • The Man Who Took the Indoors Out
  • Prince Bertram the Bad
  • Arnold Lobel’s Mother Goose
  • The Random House Book of Mother Goose (illustrator)
  • The Bears of the Air
  • Martha the Movie Mouse

A few award-winning books by wife and Polish author Anita Lobel:

  • Sven’s Lighthouse
  • One Lighthouse, One Moon
  • On Market Street
  • The Rose in My Garden (with her husband)
  • How the Rooster Saved the Day

And finally, the Frog and Toad musical, commissioned by daughter Adrianne, and premiering in 2002, hitting Broadway in 2003, and nominated for multiple Tonys:

  • A Year with Frog and Toad
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One thought on “Series Review: Frog and Toad

  1. I LOVED Frog and Toad as a child! It would definitely go in the children’s library of books if I had any. :>)

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