By Mouse and Frog

Deborah Freedman. Viking, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-670-78490-5
Mouse and Frog are avid storytellers. But the careful, deliberate Mouse has in mind a solo project—a tightly focused sketch of domestic life (“Once upon a time... in a quiet little home, Mouse woke up early and set the table”)—while Frog is eager to collaborate on a sprawling, mostly incoherent epic involving a king, a dragon and lots of ice cream. It’s a clash of creative wills and methods, which Freedman (The Story of Fish and Snail) portrays by having her protagonists draw their subject matter as they narrate it. Frog’s ideas quickly (and literally) overwhelm Mouse, but the rodent’s friendship clearly means a lot, and in one of many funny scenes, Frog sadly but dutifully erases his contributions, and solemnly tells his characters, “This story is Mouse’s.” But maybe a partnership isn’t out of the question: Mouse’s gift for structure and restraint and Frog’s boundless imagination could create something wonderful. Wearing its metafictionality lightly and told largely through dialogue that begs for performance, Freedman’s story speaks to power of creative passion and the rewards of playing well with others. Ages 3–5. Agent: Stephen Barr, Writers House. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/16/2015
Release date: 04/14/2015
DVD-Video - 978-1-63379-915-8
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