999 Frogs Wake Up

Ken Kimura, illus. by Yasunari Murakami. North-South (Ingram, dist.), $17.95 (48p) ISBN 978-0-7358-4108-6
The 999 tadpoles from Kimura’s first book are frogs now, but their mother takes the responsibility of keeping track of them just as seriously as before: “No matter how many times she counted, she could still only find 998 froglets. ‘That’s strange,’ she said.” Murakami’s frogs are simple, primitive, papercut-style forms with outsize heads, gold eyes, and pink dots for mouths. It’s the artful way they are scattered across the white pages that gives the spreads their graphic impact. Once the missing 999th frog has been awakened, he returns the favor by waking a turtle and other animal neighbors, who delight in spring’s arrival. When—reprising the joke of 999 Tadpoles—he pulls what turns out to be a still-snoozing snake out of its hole, Mother Frog saves the day. Free of irony and full of innocent, even clichéd, wonder at the beauties of spring (“I always oversleep and miss seeing the flowers, but this year I am awake on time. Thank you!” says the turtle), this book is a gift to the youngest readers, who should thoroughly enjoy it. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/21/2013
Release date: 01/01/2013
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