cover image The Bird, the Frog, and the Light: A Fable

The Bird, the Frog, and the Light: A Fable

Avi. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-531-06808-3

A pretty bird opens each day by singing: although her song is ``nothing very special,'' it nonetheless causes the sun to beam. This bucolic routine is interrupted one day by a pompous, bossy frog, who leads the bird to his underground kingdom and directs her to the many signs of his greatness--marble palace, ancient throne, massive army. Because his kingdom is pitch black, these things can be only felt, not seen. At the frog's insistence, the bird illuminates the underworld with a ray from her friend the sun, revealing the ``kingdom'' to be no more than a collection of dingy leavings--a stone, a box, a tin can--and forcing the frog, however grudgingly, to renounce his grandiosity. Avi's dry wit leads to a pungent telling, with lessons about the power and pitfalls of delusion kept humorous and light. In an impressive picture-book debut, Henry adds finely textured paintings that aptly evoke both the airy, sun-bathed earth and the ambiguous darkness of the frog's lair. His frog king--dour, imperious, literally inflated with his own importance--is a comic masterstroke. A deceptively simple tale packed with clever verbal and visual details. Ages 5-7. (Mar.)