cover image FROG


Susan Cooper, , illus. by Jane Browne. . S&S/McElderry, $17 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-84302-0

Cooper (The Dark Is Rising) introduces the protagonist's predicament in this amiable tale in the first three spreads, with one brief line of text each: "Little Joe couldn't swim. His sister and brother swam like fishes. His mom swam like a powerboat." Joe, however, can only splash about and spends most of his time watching from the edge of the swimming pool. Then one day a frog hops into the pool, and Joe observes it as it swims around and struggles to climb back out. Cooper's text combined with realistic illustrations keep the amphibian true to its nature. While the rest of the family makes a big commotion as each tries to catch the little green visitor, it's quiet Joe who comes to its aid. Rescuer and rescuee share a moment at the pool's edge ("Frog and Little Jo looked at each other,... 'Go home, Frog. Go home where it's safe' "). British artist Browne (who, incidentally, is married to artist Anthony Browne) then shows a full-bleed painting of the frog returning to its idyllic environs. Joe tries swimming again, applying his observations of the frog, and makes it across the pool. Simply framed, Cooper's story will fortify any child who's ever been uncertain around the water, and the added thread of interaction between boy and frog enriches the tale. Browne's watercolors in soothing and appropriately watery shades of blue and green, alternate full-page paintings with tightly focused vignettes that quietly build to a climax. Ages 4-7. (June)