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.)