story by Karma Wilson
illustrations by Joan Rankin
Simon & Schuster, 2003
Three makes a pattern, not two. Since this is only children's book review #2, we won't call it a pattern just yet. Like the previously reviewed Good Night, Good Knight, Karma Wilson and Joan Rankin's A Frog in the Bog so delighted Zelda and myself that I felt the need to share it with all other children's lit lovers out there. Let me explain...
Although I will read just about anything my children bring to bed with them, as a reader I am fond of those books for which you can't quite pin down the essence of their charm. Books like I Love You, Stinky Face and The Hello, Goodbye Window. Books with beautiful, evocative illustrations - not just well rendered but enchanting, out of the ordinary, mystical. Books with rhythm even where there is no rhyme. Books with heart and humor. But these are ingredients, and just as a cake has flour and eggs and whatever else, those ingredients don't stand alone. The chemical combination of them creates culinary pleasure. So, too, is it the artistic fusion of just the right magic that creates (for me) a superb children's reading experience.
A Frog in the Bog nails it.
Here we encounter a hungry frog who goes about his business eating bugs. Not a complex story, certainly one any young child of preschool age or older can follow. Embedded within the story is a nifty lesson on ecosystems via the food chain as well as very basic arithmetic (forward and backward counting from one through five). The story is told in verse form, the meter short and simple, and there is ample repetition to enhance emergent literacy skills. Surrounding the humorous buffet-style gluttony of the frog are some of the most gorgeous illustrations in a children's book I've encountered in some time. Joan Rankin's watercolors carry me directly to the site of all the trouble with their depth of color and muted renderings. Together, the story, the rhythm and rhyme, and the illustrations create something quite extraordinary.
If you're looking for a potential bedtime story to share with your own wee one, I highly recommend Wilson & Rankin's A Frog in the Bog.