The froglets who once were 999 Tadpoles (2011) wake from hibernation for an eventful spring.
First, big brother oversleeps. Then, the band of brothers and sisters set out to wake others to enjoy the season and the cherry blossoms. They rouse turtle, then lizard and then a mass of ladybugs. But, oh-oh, the next creature is a big red snake. This sequel is just as child friendly as its predecessor—simple and satisfying. Artful page turns add suspense even before the scary snake wakes up. The story moves along briskly, carried in dialogue as well as narrative. Mother Frog saves the day, and the turtle, grateful at being awoken in time for spring, removes the threat. Murakami’s yellow-eyed frogs are surprisingly expressive. Gray-spotted shapes of green against a clean white background, they bounce across the pages, sometimes standing around in a group and sometimes scurrying off. When big brother recognizes the snake, his little pink mouth widens into a terrified grimace. Brown Mother Frog is different in color and size. Big brother is larger, too. The other 998 are largely indistinguishable. Murakami’s landscape is only suggested; the imagination supplies the details.
Like its predecessor, this Japanese import is an excellent storytime choice. (Picture book. 3-7)