Stein’s (When Disaster Strikes, 2011, etc.) debut picture book introduces a daring frog who risks everything to save the swamp he loves.
Geronimo is a bold frog who grew up on stories about the brave Native American warriors of the Big Cypress Swamp in Florida. He’s never allowed himself to be held back by his size; as a young frog, he delighted in leaping out of trees and terrifying his brother and sister while shouting “Geronimo!” in honor of the ancient warrior whose stories inspired him. Even being sent to bed without his horsefly stew never deters him from following his irrepressible dreams. When a gang that has wild parties and leaves their garbage everywhere threatens his swamp, it’s Geronimo who steps up to lead the other animals in a mission to save it. It’s not easy, and the gang captures Geronimo. But his leadership has inspired the team of animals; they find bravery where they had none so they can save their leader. After the courageous rescue, it still takes both ingenuity and the recruitment of outside help for Geronimo and his friends to save the swamp for good. The brilliantly colored illustrations are full of life and energy. Geronimo is a dynamic force, and his energy and appeal seem to leap off the pages. Stein balances several instructive moments for kids. Tiny Geronimo’s ability to save a swamp from a bunch of aggressive, mean humans shows kids that they, with perseverance, can triumph, no matter how daunting the opposition. In addition, the illustration of a heron with plastic around its neck vividly depicts the impact that littering has on the environment—another good lesson for kids. These lessons, however, do not distract from the pure joy of the adventures of Geronimo and his animal friends. The text flows well when read aloud, and it’s just challenging enough to keep the interest of children who have moved beyond very basic picture books.
A thoroughly enjoyable tale of bravery, imagination, friendship and triumph.