cover image The Frogs and Toads All Sang

The Frogs and Toads All Sang

Arnold Lobel, , color by Adrianne Lobel. . HarperCollins, $16.99 (29pp) ISBN 978-0-06-180022-1

Originally created by the late Lobel as a handmade book for a fellow author, these poems and pencil sketches (skillfully given washes of color by his daughter, Adrianne) are the progenitors of Lobel's classic Frog and Toad series. But even kids who haven't spent much time with those amphibious friends will find plenty to enjoy. As befits something made for a friend, the drawings of genteelly domesticated amphibians large and small bring to mind the spontaneity, intimacy and exuberance of the sketchpad; even the very young should sense that Lobel was a man who was delighted to see his imagination take shape on paper. He versifies expertly and with gentleness: a green frog's virtuosity on the violin doesn't keep him from yearning, “And yet.../ I'd rather play/ The clarinet.” Polliwogs, their bodies composed almost entirely of broad, mischievous grins, revel in a school where “all we do is wiggle./ We do not read.../ We do not write.../ We only squirm and giggle.” A lovely addition to anyone's Lobel bookshelf. Ages 4–7. (June)