Lechner, John. A Froggy Fable. Candlewick, 2005. ISBN 978-0763621230. 32 pp. $14.99
A frog enjoys his idyllic pond life until things change. Outside the realm of his control are squawking jays, a family of otters and a fallen tree. Yet when circumstance carries him far from the pond, he longs to see his home again. Like the fable about the man who doesn’t appreciate his tiny house until he takes in his whole family and barnyard, the frog learns to appreciate what he has after it is gone. He bravely takes the journey back, which yields more lessons in coping with moved cheese.
Soft watercolor and ink illustrations use minimal lines and colors to match the simplicity of the text. Cool tones in the first half of the book warm up as the frog’s attitude shifts. Occasionally, the text is so restrained it becomes flat, and the use of ellipses instead of crafted transitions is overemployed. These minimal flaws also make the book a great transition between picture books and read-alouds for beginning readers, with only a few longer words to stumble over.
The message is delivered with charm, and the reassuring tale becomes a bibliotheraputic jumping off point for parents to talk about life’s only constant. A solid first book from author/illustrator/animator Lechner, recommended for larger collections and one-on-one read-alouds.