cover image The Green Frogs: A Korean Folktale

The Green Frogs: A Korean Folktale

Yumi Heo. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $17 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-68378-1

Although its conclusion may sit uneasily with guilt-phobic Americans, this Korean folktale is so beguilingly retold and visualized with such individuality that it deserves a wide audience. The ebullient, sensory-overload style of illustration Heo brought to One Afternoon is turned down several notches here, creating a busy, funny, yet delicate backdrop in oil and pencil. The story focuses on two frog brothers who always do the opposite of what their beleaguered mother asks--they even croak backward. Well aware of her sons' contrariness, the mother, dying and wishing to be buried on the sunny side of a hill, tells them, ""Please bury me in the shade by the stream."" Ironically, this time they obey and bury her by the stream. When it rains, they beg the stream not to wash their mother's grave away, ""and ever since then, whenever, it rains, green frogs sit by streams and cry."" This is a strong lesson in obedience, but deftly rendered with a light touch. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)