The amphibian in this Australian import is actually a child who likes to dress as something else because it “makes me feel brave.”
The child had tried being a cat, but good friend Camille discreetly suggested (after watching a friend run repeatedly from a dog) that a different animal might work better. DeGennaro’s introduction places the two on opposite sides of the gutter, highlighting their differences. The narrator sports one-piece pajamas, green slippers, and a green, knitted cap with two froglike bulges on top. Behind the narrator are collages of the tadpole’s life cycle. Camille, wearing her signature red polka-dot boots, is surrounded by graphs and numbers. Although the protagonist knows that when Camille recites the six times table it signals hunger, her repetition and wriggling during measurements for a matching costume are maddening; the narrator’s frustrated outburst causes her to walk off the page. These rosy-cheeked white children, created on the taupe pages with ink, pencil, and Conte crayons, exude personality—through lopsided goggles and smiles, gentle gestures, and bodies that relate to each other as if through gravitational pull. Sequential panels, thought bubbles, and backgrounds are expertly designed with mathematical symbols and frogs, enhancing comprehension of the characters’ interior worlds. The visuals surrounding their endearing embrace show how unspoken layers contribute to communication and reconciliation.
This celebration of differences displays great respect for readers’ intelligence and yields more with each reading. (Picture book. 5-8)