THE FROG

Seldom has a common frog looked so regal, outside of a fairy tale, as in this gloriously illustrated life cycle. Describing the common European frog in rich detail, the author records how the frog stalks his first meal, a pink juicy worm, after the winter hibernation: “He bides his time, toes twitching. Then he pounces, seizing the wriggling prey in his wide mouth. He scrapes off the dirt with delicate fingers before gulping it down whole.” The frog finds other creatures to munch on the way to the pond, and narrowly misses becoming a meal for a hedgehog. At the pond, he mates, and then the text and illustrations describe the process by which the tiny jelly-like eggs hatch into tadpoles and develop into froglets and finally frogs. Kitchen's cutaway pond paintings are especially compelling as they show the frogs above and below the surface of the pond. Readers in the US, more familiar with the common green leopard frog, will find many similar elements in the life cycle of this golden bronze neighbor, Rana temporaria. Part of the Animal Lives series by Kingfisher, including The Rabbit (not reviewed). The Rabbit which focuses on a European rabbit, rather than the familiar cottontail of the US. These are handsome, informative, inexpensive titles with outstanding illustrations. (frog facts, Web sites and organizations for more information, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7534-5215-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...

ESCAPE FROM BAXTERS' BARN

A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS

This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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