The Five Frogs On Biscuit Bay (Tommy Piolata)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Five Frogs On Biscuit Bay, written by Tommy Piolata and illustrated by David Cuccia, the tale of a young frog family looking for a home.

One night, five frog cousins – Lia the Grace, Dom the Bomb, Mira the Soul, Vinny the Shark, and Daniella “Lala” – overhear their parents discussing a need to find a new pond; theirs has become too crowded and dangerous. Wanting to help, the five youngsters decide they will set out to find it themselves. What follows are their adventures, filled with danger, challenges, and a host of other animal friends… and foes.

Right off the bat, this is not a picture book – there’s a massive amount of text, and JJ lost interest by the third or fourth page (reading it myself, as an adult, took about 30 minutes). This would probably be more accurately described as a middle grade novel. From there, honestly, this is a tough one to review. The author wrote the story as a loving and very personal tribute to his grandchildren, five of whom serve as the models for the main characters. In fact, almost all of the “good” characters are based on friends and family, and Piolata describes each and every one with an adoring paragraph, pages before even introducing them to the plot. To the real-life subjects, I imagine this is incredibly touching; to the average reader, however, it’s excessive. Indeed, most of the book would have benefitted from the hand of an editor – there are several grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors; descriptive text has a tendency towards redundancy; plot-centered text lacks the rise or fall in tone or structure that would create urgency. Everything’s a bit matter-of-fact, and makes for a rather dull read (excepting the bizarre plot twist at the end, which is simply confusing). Cuccia’s artwork is a lot more focused, using lifelike animal models with exaggerated expressions and accessories to create a great deal of visual interest, and as such was JJ’s favorite part of the book. As a grandfather’s ode to his grandchildren, this is a lovely story that his family will cherish. Yet for all its good intentions, this one simply wasn’t for us.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Little Frog And The Scary Autumn Thing (Jane Yolen)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is Little Frog And The Scary Autumn Thing, written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Ellen Shi, a wonderful tale that uses the change of seasons as a metaphor for how to handle changes in our lives.

Little Frog loves the color green. It’s her very favorite color, and all her favorite things are green: her family, her lily pad, even her own self. So when the trees of her forest begin to turn from green to brand new colors, like red and yellow and orange and even – gasp! – purple, Little Frog feels nervous. Maybe even afraid. But Mama Frog and Papa Frog are here to help her overcome her fears, and learn that change is simply a part of life, and in change can be found new joys, fun experiences, and even familiar comforts. 

In a book written by Jane Yolen, you’re almost expecting a wonderful story, and this one fits the bill. On the surface, it’s a sweet tale about the change of seasons, but Yolen layers in some truly lovely messages about the anxieties we all have about big changes (yes, all – even Papa Frog shows nervousness of the purple leaves). There’s an especially clever moment when, being brave and trying to explore her changing world, Little Frog ends up falling and scraping her knee, and the story stops to focus on it. It’s a small yet meaningful detail, showing that sometimes change is especially hard at first, even painful. The art is beautiful, capturing both the fall colors and the mood of the Frog family perfectly. The length is good, edging on long for tiny bookworms, but JJ enjoyed it very much. This was a well-crafted parable that had a lot to enjoy, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Froggy Learns To Swim (Jonathan London)


Summer Reading Day 57: Our book today was Froggy Learns to Swim by Jonathan London, with illustrations by Frank Remkiewicz. It’s possible that you are familiar with the Froggy series, typically a tale of Froggy learning a new skill or visiting a new place (Froggy Goes to the Library, Froggy Plays Soccer, etc), and this one is no different: here, Froggy learns to swim despite his fears (and yes, the irony of a frog not knowing how to swim and being afraid of learning is mentioned in the book :))

It’s a cute and harmless tale, and I liked how Froggy acts very much like a child in it (the way he speaks, his logic – like needing his flippers to build the confidence to learn how to swim). The illustrations are cute, nothing to write home about, but enjoyable. The length was okay for baby bookworms, even if the story was a little bland. It’s not one I would say that you have to rush out and read right now, but I can recommend it, especially for baby bookworms learning how to swim.