cover image Fenton's Leap

Fenton's Leap

Libba Moore Gray. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $14 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-671-79196-4

Nearsighted Fenton the frog plops around the local pond, barely escaping the claws and jaws of hungry owls and sinister alligators. But while corrective lenses cure the ex-polliwog's peepers, not even Bosson's buoyant watercolors can save Fenton from a story as murky as his hometown swamp. Gray shows little of the delicacy she demonstrated in Dear Willie Rudd . For example, Fenton lands ``right onto the back of a very long ripple-backed alligator'' as his cousins taunt, ``You will never be free . . . / You cannot see to seeeeeeeeee.'' There's enough ``zee, zee, zee,'' ``gurgle, glub'' and ``lurch, splat, blat, drop, plop'' to tie tongues and generate giggles, but the rhymes are corny (``Katy Catfish is my name. / Scavenging swamp bottoms / is my game'') and the sentences cumbersome (``Over and over they turned, glinting in the sun until they landed on the nose of Fenton, who still sat in the cool mud blearily blinking in the very hot sun''). Bosson deserves better--her beguiling sequences of serene greens and aquas refresh like a dip in the lake. Ages 2-5. (June)