999 Tadpoles

Ken Kimura, Author, Yasunari Murakami, Author
Ken Kimura, illus. by Yasunari Murakami. North-South (Ingram, dist.), $16.95 (48p) ISBN 978-0-7358-4013-3
Reviewed on: 04/11/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
The best moment in this English-language debut, first published in Japan in 2003, comes as Mother and Father Frog try to keep their 999 tadpoles safe from predators as they search for a bigger pond. "Keep hopping," Father warns, "or a scary snake might get you." Father widens his eyes and sticks out his tongue to show his children what a snake looks like, but it's too late: the next spread reveals a dozen tadpoles holding onto the tail of a large, red... snake. "Like THIS?" they ask. (Kimura quickly reassures readers: "The snake was sleeping peacefully. It must just have eaten.") When a hawk seizes Father soon after, what looks like a crisis instead delivers the frogs to a roomy new home. Kimura views the natural world with humor and urges readers not to give in to discouragement ("This is great," says a tadpole as the hawk drags the entire family through the sky. "What a view!" says another.) Murakami's naïf spreads, with plenty of white space and many small, absorbing images on every page, ease the tension and provide laughs. Ages 4–8. (June)
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