Braunstein’s song about racial tolerance comes to 21st-century readers in this picture book, which would not be complete without the enclosed CD recording by Peter, Paul and Mary.
Brunet’s zany, realistic illustrations vividly portray both the love between the freckled redhead and the tall, lanky blue Dr. Phrog (he has a Ph.D.) and the discrimination they face as a result of their “interracial” relationship despite the frog’s solid background, education and family. Both humans and animals fill the huge, full-bleed spreads, in a town that is obviously populated by both, but in no other context do readers see the species mixing. An elephant shields its calf’s eyes from the sight of the two sipping from one glass at the soda fountain while the human soda jerk looks on disapprovingly; homogeneous family groups play at the playground (and on the next page, the narrator imagines her fabulous frog/human children). The final illustration departs from this hostility, showing the couple handing out frog-shaped ice-cream pops to the locals, who sport “I heart Phrog” shirts and buttons. While this is certainly a positive development, readers will wonder exactly how the turnaround happened. A “Performers’ Note” explains the song’s historical background.
An interesting take on discrimination and acceptance that will introduce young readers to the sound of an influential musical group. (illustrator’s note, three-song CD) (Picture book. 4-10)