cover image Tadpoles


Betsy James. Dutton Children's Books, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-46197-5

Neatly tucked inside a humorous tale about accepting a new sibling, a science lesson illustrates how tadpoles develop. Decidedly underwhelmed by the arrival of her little brother (""All he could do was yell and smell and drool""), Molly brings some frog eggs home from the pond one day. Under her mother's patient tutelage, she observes their growth into tadpoles and, eventually, into frogs that need to be returned to the pond. Meanwhile, Molly's brother is also growing--and growing on Molly; the tadpole and baby brother story lines intersect gracefully and without much manipulation. James's (Mary Ann) realistic story is larded with believable emotion (""I'd rather have a frog than a brother"") and deftly intertwined with a generous helping of information about tadpoles and frogs. Colored-pencil drawings in a childlike style appear slightly underdone or rough-hewn; a closer look shows sophisticated cross-hatching and careful balance of the palette. Round insets act like a magnifying glass, offering close-ups of the various stages of frog development. Young naturalists will be clamoring for tadpoles of their own. Ages 3-7. (July)