cover image Tale of a Tadpole

Tale of a Tadpole

Barbara Ann Porte. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-531-30049-7

With a tadpole named Fred at its center, this tale twinkles with all the exuberance of youthful discovery. Francine diligently attends her new charge, while she ""waits for his feet to come in."" Each new development (""Quick, quick, come look!"" calls Francine) is met by her parents' encouragement and her older sister's persistent references to the frog-prince possibility. Porte's (Chickens! Chickens!) dialogue reveals an ordinary family's interaction (e.g., when tadpole bumps grow into frog legs, Francine's family responds one after the other, ""That looks almost like a frog now..."" ""A froglet..."" ""Or a princelet with a tail"") interspersed with scientific information. When her hard-of-hearing grandpa meets the fully fledged Fred (""Hi there, Ted""), Francine learns that her frog is actually a toad. Porte manages to insert a surprising number of frog-and-toad facts without lecturing. Cannon's (The Bat in the Boot) airy watercolors sparkle with the lightness of summer days as she depicts episodic frames of Fred's progress as well as overhead perspectives of the family gathered around the fishtank. In the tale's happy ending, once Fred can make it on his own, he is set free. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)