A frog frets when he can’t make music.
Frankie the frog can’t croak, as hard as he tries. Unlike his fellow frogs, who easily break out into their signature sounds, and other pond denizens who produce their own natural utterances, Frankie can’t make a sound. One night, he hears glorious tones…and encounters humans, each of whom is playing, for a princess’s benefit, a melody-producing object Frankie dubs a “music machine.” Frankie rushes home and creates his own “machine,” which he calls Banjo; after considerable practice, he produces wonderful music. This is overheard by friends whom Frankie promptly helps as they devise instruments, too. Forming a quartet and developing a solid reputation, the group decides to enter the annual Croak Competition. Undeterred when told that only croakers can participate, Frankie invents a “froggy machine” that, well, croaks to beat the band. This is a thin, unoriginal story, but it could encourage readers to persevere in pursuit of their dreams; kids who can’t carry a tune might even consider taking up an instrument to fulfill any musical ambitions. The illustrations are the draw here—full of energy, liveliness, and wit, they populate a charming natural world with cheery, big-eyed, personable frogs and other animals of all sizes, some dressed in retro garb. Hartas stimulates interest with art that varies among full-page illustrations, panels, and spot-art pieces.
Some kids may hop to this beat. (Picture book. 4-7)