Marvelous New Picture Books: by mouse and frog

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by mouse & frog by Deborah Freedman provides children a fun new look at storytelling. One day Mouse wakes up eager to write a story, but soon his friend Frog joins him. While Mouse takes a calm approach to writing a story, and slowly plans out the events, Frog rushes in to take the story into a whole new direction. Frog is overcome by excitement and rambles out an imaginative story that cannot be contained. His fantastical images spill out, overshadowing Mouse’s original plans.

1

Frog’s story clearly displays his love of books through the many references he makes to books and stories which have recently been published for children and others which have been enjoyed for much longer. However, there are too many references and his story barely fits on the page. It has no structure or sense to it. This is not okay with Mouse, who does not appreciate how Frog takes over his story for him with no regard to how Mouse wanted it to go.

2

The character’s emotions and reactions within by mouse and frog are childlike and are therefore very relatable for children reading the book. Frog is so excited by the story Mouse is writing, that he cannot contain his excitement. He loses all regard for Mouse’s emotions in his rush to get his ideas out. However, Mouse is not happy with Frog’s interference. Mouse has his own ideas and beliefs that his way is the best. He wants to be able to create his own work without interference from someone else. In the end, Frog is sadden by Mouse’s anger. Despite his wish for autonomy, Mouse also cares about his friend, so they find a compromise and work together. This is similar to many children’s expression of their own selfish desires and an ultimate realization that working together with their friends may lead them to an even happier ending.

3

Freedman’s form of illustrations greatly enhance and add on to the telling of the story and the collaboration of the two characters. As Mouse creates the story, images appear in inked lines that clearly display what is happening with very little fun or imagination. When Frog adds his parts, color is added as his imaginings come forth in line drawings as well as disorganized blobs of colors. It is not until the two build their story together in harmony that the lines and colors come together to create fully formed illustrations.

4

by mouse and frog would be a great book to lead a class or child into a lesson on writing their own stories. It clearly shows how structure and whimsical ideas can come together to beautifully illustrate one’s ideas. Children can be encouraged to work on their own and with friends to create their own stories just like Frog and Mouse. The book clearly displays that it is not only authors who can write stories, but anyone who wants to spell out their ideas. Even outside of an instructional setting, it is a fun book which would surely inspire children to make their own attempts at storytelling.

-Tori Kingman

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