City Dog, Country Frog

Mo Willems, illus. by Jon J Muth, DisneyHyperion, $17.99 (64p) ISBN 978-1-4231-03004
Muth (Zen Shorts) sets a limpid rural scene for Willems's (Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed) two unlikely friends in this tranquil tale of change. One spring day, redolent with fresh yellow-greens and pale blues, City Dog tastes life "without a leash!" Exploring a reedy pond, he meets Country Frog, who teaches him "jumping and splashing and croaking." When summer arrives, City Dog demonstrates "sniffing and fetching and barking." Fall brings orange-gold foliage and a brown cast to Country Frog's emerald skin. In wintertime, City Dog trots through the snow to find Country Frog's favorite rock unoccupied. A closing chapter, "spring again," shows City Dog encountering another animal and repeating the same greeting Country Frog met him with the year before. Willems's concise sentences, paired with joking illustrations in his other works, lose their hilarity—but gain significant emotional weight—when matched with Muth's watercolors. Pink blossoms and red maple leaves allude to Japanese art; Muth pictures Country Frog as a wise tutor who tosses a stick for his apprentice and, in a rain shower, protectively holds a leaf over the dog. The understated episodes acknowledge the transitory nature of the seasons and of life itself. Ages 3–6. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/24/2010
Release date: 06/01/2010
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