I Don’t Want to Be a Frog by Dev Petty; illlustrated by Mike Boldt (Doubleday, $16.99, 32 pages)
In the song “I Am… I Said,” Neil Diamond sang: “Did you ever read about a frog/Who dreamed of becoming a king/And then became one?” In the children’s book, I Don’t Want to Be a Frog, a young frog dreams of becoming a cat. Or a rabbit. Or a pig. He simply wants to be something “cute and warm.” Anything but a wet slimy frog!
This book is addressed to children between the ages of 3 and 7-years-old who might want to be something a bit different than what they are. The lesson the book provides is that there are trade-offs and dangers in becoming something else. For example, we find out that hungry wolves like to hunt rabbits. But not frogs. Frogs are not very tasty – at least to wolves, so there’s safety in being wet, green and slimy.
Frog was written by Dev Petty and illustrated by Mike Boldt. They do an excellent job of matching up the words with the drawings. This book should be enjoyed by many young readers, except for those who might become frightened by the big, hungry, predator wolf. It’s better read to the young ones in the daytime, and definitely not right before bedtime.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
Good Night, Mouse! by Jed Henry (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, $16.99, 32 pages)
Some children’s storybooks rely on clever illustrations to capture their audience and others rely on rhymes. Jed Henry’s adorable picture book, Good Night, Mouse!, gently brings his audience into a softly illustrated tale of Mouse, a fellow who can’t fall asleep. The characters, all of whom are friends of Mouse, take turns using their own method of falling asleep while encouraging Mouse to drift off to sleep.
The book is not too big and not too small. It is right-sized for cuddling on a downturned comforter. The wording is a blend of beautiful and caring sounds. Rabbit says, “I know how to wear him out. Tripping, skipping, tired tumbling. Good night, Mouse!” Noting that Mouse has become all wound up in Rabbit’s jump rope, Frog suggests, “A bath will soothe his weary bones.”
And so it goes, as each of Mouse’s many friends take a turn at putting him to bed. The book has long been a favorite of this reviewer’s little granddaughter. The book lives at grandma and grandpa’s house. It makes an appearance as the last book to be read before lights out. Funny how it lulls the reader and listener so that by the end of the story everyone is ready to say, “Good night.”
This book is recommended for children between the ages of 4 and 8.
Cheer Up, Mouse! by Jed Henry is also available.
First Day of School by Anne Rockwell (Harper, $6.99, 40 pages)
First Day of School is a charming children’s book that will help parents calm down their little ones who are about to enter a strange new world. The story by Anne Rockwell — illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell — reminds kids that they will retain their friends, even if they are not assigned to the same class. In the tale, a number of children confess their fears from the prior year about school while noting that everything turned out for the best.
Interestingly, Rockwell impresses upon the young reader that school can serve as an excuse to go shopping — for new clothes, shoes, and supplies like backpacks. And they’re reminded that the school library will likely have some of their favorite books.
One of the best things about this book is that the characters are multicultural. There’s an Anglo boy and girl, an Asian girl, a Hispanic boy and an African-American boy and girl. And parents are shown as supportive figures there to assist their children in any way possible. Finally, Lizzy Rockwell’s artwork is almost watercolor-like which further serves to foster a sense of calmness.
First Day‘s soothing message is that school is fun and people are good and kind.
A review copy was provided by the publisher. For children ages 4 though 8.