Monday, June 17, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: Frog Song by Brenda Guiberson, illustrated by Gennady Spirin

Confession: Sometimes I read books in storytime without previewing them. I'll do a quick flip to make sure there's not too much text, and then off we go. Pretty much everyone will tell you this is a bad idea, but it's always worked fine for me.

That's just to say that when I was doing a frog-themed outreach visit back in May, I scooped up a variety of frog books including Frog Song which I'd just received from Junior Library Guild, and pulled it out to read for the first time to a group of four year olds. I had expected that I'd need to skip pages, but to my surprise they were spellbound and we read the entire thing through from beginning to end.

The book opens with a brief paragraph celebrating frog sounds and their love of water and then moves on to describe a series of frogs from the Scarlet-sided pobblebonk of Australia to the Darwin's frog of Chile. Each frog is distinguished by a particular feature of their life cycle or behavior and each description includes a delightful variety of frog sounds. If you are reading this book aloud be prepared to make chirp, brackbrack, buzzzz, and mwaa as you work your way through the frogs. There are sounds for laying eggs and rain, splashing into ponds, and more as well.

While my personal preference for illustrations in nonfiction is photographs, Spirin's rich illustrative style fits well with the lush colors and details of the frogs and their habitats. The pictures are always beautiful, but in some places the setting and backgrounds aren't entirely clear as the atmosphere seems to have overtaken the realism. This didn't seem to bother the kids, who were mostly indifferent to the aesthetics of the art anyways and were more interesting in discussing whether the frogs were farting or pooping (the picture in question is actually of a midwife toad carrying eggs).

There is a section on "frogs of the world" with a cameo of each frog from the illustrations and more facts about each one including their geographic range, length, and a quick fact. There is also a final author's note about the plight of frogs and a bibliography.

Verdict: This is a great addition to nonfiction that can be used in storytime. For kids younger than four, it's easy to pick only a few of the frogs to read about and older kids will enjoy poring over the illustrations to find more details and reading the additional backmatter. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9780805092547; Published 2013 by Henry Holt; Purchased for the library


shelf-employed said...

Thanks for joining today's Nonfiction Monday roundup, Jennifer! You're a bold one to read a book you haven't previewed at story time! ;)

Perogyo said...

This looks very cool. My kids love to learn what animal sounds are in different languages. In Japanese frogs say "gero gero", which is a lot closer than "ribbit" I think!

Jennifer said...

This had a LOT of frog sounds and water sounds. We just kind of guessed what they were supposed to sound like! In Swedish, frogs say "kvack" it must just depend on the frog (-:)

Resh said...

I can't wait to find this one at the library. We saw a DVD on Amphibians (mostly frogs) and DD loved it! So needlessly to say this book goes on our holdshelf :)
thanks for sharing!