Three young, plucky frogs help save the day in Dempsey’s debut for middle-grade readers.
Life is tranquil at Lake Fibian for the Anura, the frog nation, who gather monthly on Luna Light Night “to celebrate the unity of the lake.” Three young frog friends, known for their troublemaking as “The Three,” enjoy many adventures around the lake. Max is the most daring of The Three, while Spyder is more cautious (and a voracious eater), and Cristobel excels at figuring things out. Life hasn’t always been so idyllic, though. According to the “Croaklore,” the lake was once invaded by a creature called a Hoppernot, which walked on two legs, spoke an incomprehensible language, and snatched fish out of the lake without warning. After the Hoppernot departed, all the species made a pact to cooperate. Now the Hoppernots have returned, threatening the peace. The Three discover that the Hoppernots are destroying the animals’ summer resort, a long-abandoned house. Cristobel also finds that she can understand their language. Using this knowledge, The Three mobilize the animals to use their strengths to scare the Hoppernots away. The story is told from a frog’s-eye view, presenting common items such as cars and baseball caps from a frog’s perspective. Even the language has been modified as frog-speak: “They’re too afraid of getting tadnapped and taken away.” Animal lovers will enjoy fun facts neatly incorporated into the plot; for example, a flock of crows is called a murder. In the beginning, the history of the animals’ pact almost overwhelms with detail, and it takes a while for the action to get going. Once it does, though, the story moves at a quick pace, with only a couple of delays for out-of-place flashbacks. Some minor punctuation and grammatical errors, as well as incorrect word choices (“after so much time had past”), may be especially confusing for an audience new to reading. However, well-developed characters, an exciting climax, and a strong theme of working together make this an appealing story.
A fun adventure for animal-loving young readers.