cover image A Froggy Fable

A Froggy Fable

JOHN LECHNER, . . Candlewick, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-2123-0

Every day a frog leaves his hole at the edge of a pond to eat breakfast and enjoy a postprandial sunbath. Not much happens, and that's the way he likes it. But then a family of noisy otters moves into the pond and lightning strikes a pine tree, toppling it into the water. The frog, who comes off as a bit of a milquetoast, greets these developments with dismay: "I'm sad because everything is changing," he says. Without being heavy-handed, first-time author/artist Lechner imparts a lesson about flexibility in the face of change. Indeed, the parable is so quiet that when the green fellow is snatched from his home by a boy on a bicycle, the drama seems to come out of nowhere. The frog escapes but finds himself lost in "a strange and unfamiliar place." His fear and displacement may be more unsettling than instructive to younger readers, although slightly older children may identify with the protagonist's lack of control over his world. Frog consists of only a few lines, with goggly eyes and a spring-green body. Lechner's fluidly executed, spare pen-and-watercolor illustrations underscore the Zen message. Readers will cheer when the hero finds his way home and realizes, triumphantly, that change does not equal disaster, and "he could handle anything." Ages 4-up. (Apr.)