About the Holiday
As the weather gets warmer, rain falls, and swampy areas and wetlands swell with water, the peeps and throaty croaks of frogs begins to fill the nighttime air. April is the perfect time to learn more about frogs and their importance to the ecosystem. Frogs are vital to the food system, and they eat insects that are harmful to crops and carry disease. Because they don’t drink water but absorb it through their skin, frogs are particularly susceptible to pollution. This, in addition to habitat destruction, climate change, and an increase in invasive species, threaten the frog population, making the conservation of their environment of utmost importance. This month, visit an aquarium, nature preserve, or zoo where you can learn more about these fascinating creatures.
I Don’t Want to be a Frog
Written by Dev Petty | Illustrated by Mike Boldt
“I want to be a cat,” a little frog announces to his father. “You can’t be a cat,” his dad answers, which elicits the inevitable “Why not?” from his son. His dad isn’t quite ready for this conversation and gives him the standard “because you’re a frog” response. Well, it turns out the little frog would rather be almost anything other than what he is. As he rattles off a list of alternatives that he considers much better, his dad warms to the game and counters each of his son’s suggestions with the realities of life (at least their life).
When little frog opines that he’d like to be a rabbit, his dad points out that he doesn’t have long ears. Being a pig seems like an attractive option, but Dad reminds him that he doesn’t have a curly tail or eat garbage. While both son and father believe being an owl would be “the greatest thing ever,” three things are standing in the way: Frogs don’t have wings, they don’t look wise, and they can’t spin their heads around.
So what’s so bad about being a frog? It’s “too wet,” “too slimy,” and there’s “too much bug eating,” little frog complains. Just then a wolf sneaks up and wants to know why the little guy is so glum. Without turning around to see who’s asking, the frog reveals his plight.
With glee the wolf lets the frog in on a little secret, explaining that he revels in eating cats, rabbits, pigs, and owls. In fact, just talking about it makes him hungry. “Guess the one thing I never eat,” the wolf urges. “Badgers?” guesses the little frog. But no, the answer is “frogs.” And why? Because they are “too wet and slimy and full of bugs.”
Wiser for this fresh perspective, the young frog sends the wolf off with a hearty, “I guess you can’t fight nature. We are what we are. You are a fierce hunter.” As the wolf walks away all’s well that ends well—except not so much for the creature who next happens upon the scene!
Dev Petty’s sassy-in-a-good-way young frog’s identity crisis is pure fun! The notion of self-acceptance and that each person is built, has talents, and embodies skills just right for who they are is playfully presented by Petty’s sweet father-and-son team. The humorous, escalating dialogue will keep kids laughing, and the surprise ending is a perfect twist. Petty’s endearing amphibian has spawned two sequals—I Don’t Want to Be Big and There’s Nothing to Do. A third, I Don’t Want to Go to Sleep, is due this fall.
Mike Boldt’s olive green frogs are a delight as they trade off assurance and skepticism in their life-lesson conversation. Dad, initially mystified by his son’s pronouncements, discusses the issue with patience and genuine curiosity, his eyes registering cunning and understanding behind oversized glasses. His son, wide-eyed and vocal, displays the honesty of children with his questions. Boldt’s illustrations of the rabbit, pig, and owl that so captivate the young frog, juxtaposed with the father’s objections, are comical joy, as are the frogs’ looong legs and expressive faces. The final scenes with the enlightening wolf, whose head spans two pages, offer more laughs as the father and son resolve their differences.
Kids will love hearing I Don’t Want to be a Frog again and again, making it sure bet for home and classroom bookshelves. And now, even the littlest tadpoles can enjoy the story with the new board book edition.
Ages 3 – 7
Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2018 (Board Book) | ISBN 978-0525579502 | 2017 (Paperback) 978-1338225259 | 2015 (Hardcover) 978-0385378666
Discover more about Dev Petty and her books on her website
To learn more about Mike Boldt, his books, and his art, visit his website.
You do want to watch the I Don’t Want to be a Frog book trailer!
National Frog Month Activity
Hop Along Matching Game
Hop along now and help these frogs! Each of these fantastic frogs has a twin, but they’ve gotten separated. Can you spot the identical pairs? Print out the Hop Along Matching Game and draw a line between the pairs.
picture book review