Pond life: an interrupted idyll.
“Once upon a time there was a pond, and in that pond lived a lot of frogs.” And they are a fine-looking army of frogs, decked out in French sailor shirts, singing songs, nabbing flies, snoozing, and attending to their coffee and paper on lily pads as delicate as etchings, all courtesy of Somà. Alas, one day a frog-sized crown falls into the water. One expert diver of a frog surfaces with the trophy and plops it on. A few other frogs get it into their heads that they will be her advisers and start bossing the other frogs around. Cali does not make it clear why this is so, since the frogs have seemingly always lived a democratic life and none of them “had ever seen a queen, and no one knew what to do or say. Finally, one of the frogs shouted, ‘Long live the queen!’ ” Despite the milieu, this doesn’t feel very organic. The queen takes on airs and entitlements; she is all-powerful and the best at everything. The other frogs even have to entertain her, such as the diving contest organized by the advisers. The common frogs urge the queen to dive, to show them how she is the best. She does, and predictably, the crown falls off and sinks into the mud. The metaphorical queen is dead; long live the common frog.
A lovely but garbled fable. (Picture book. 4-8)