999 Frogs (Two Books by Ken Kimura)

My son and I enjoyed 999 Tadpoles by Ken Kimura dn Yasunari Murakami (May 2011) when we read it years ago, so I was excited to see the two sequels to it in our local library.


999 Frogs Wake Up (North South, 2013) is a fitting read for the beginning of spring. As the frogs emerge from the mud after a long winter, Mother Frog is disturbed when she only counts 998 of her babies. Where is the last one? When Big Brother is found to still be sleeping, the frogs decide to find out who else may be sleeping in the early Spring. I really enjoyed this book because I see the educational value of learning about animals that sleep over a long winter. As an adult, I enjoyed the anticipation, knowing that the silly young frogs would meet one of their own predators in their search to wake the other animals! My daughter enjoyed the story too.

999 Frogs and  Little Brother (North South, 2015) has a different feel to it from the others in the series, because this book starts back when the frogs are still tadpoles and it focuses on one of the frogs for a portion of the story. The youngest frog has not quite become a frog yet and must remain in the pond by himself, and he is delighted when a small young crayfish becomes his friend, thinking they are brothers. Thus, Big Brother (the littlest frog) makes a dear friend. When he eventually must leave the pond too, the friendship continues, because the young crayfish comes to the rescue of the frogs at a later date. I liked the emphasis on friendship. Although Big Brother truly was the youngest and smallest, he still could find a friend with whom to play. Never underestimate the power of a friend, even if you have 998 siblings! Note: I received a digital copy for review consideration.

Picture Book Sunday: Me, Too! by Annika Dunklee

Me, Too! by Annika Dunklee and illustrated by Lori Joy Smith (Kids Can Press, April 2015) is a book about friendship. Annie feels left out when a new girl moves in, because her best friend Lillemore has become friends with someone else!

I loved the simple format of this book. It is a pretty straight-forward book: jealousy at the most basic. But of course Annie learns that because Lillemore and Lilianne have a lot in common, that means that she, Annie, also has some things in common too!

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Bird & Squirrel books by James Burks


Sometimes we underestimate the attention span of our youngest children. When I saw the first Bird and Squirrel book, I thought of my 7-year-old son, someone who loves reading but may need a nudge to get interested in a new series or even genre. He has not had much experience with graphic novels, so I thought he would enjoy the book.

To my great surprise, it was my toddler daughter who was drawn to the zany illustrations and the fun story. She insisted that I read every frame in the book. Although she is young, I  was delighted to see her enjoying and responding to a different type of picture book.Continue Reading

Alice Have I Been by Melanie Benjamin

Alice Have I Been by Melanie Benjamin (Random House, December 2010) is a fictionalized historical biography of Alice Liddell Hargreaves, the woman who was as a child friends of Charles L. Dodgson (the man who later wrote under the pen name Lewis Carroll). It was young Alice Liddell who begged Mr. Dodgson to write down his improvised story of a girl chasing a white rabbit to a fantastic wonderland. And it was a middle-aged Mr. Dodgson who took dozens of photographs of young girls, including Alice Liddell, during the late 1800s.

Was Mr. Dodgson a perverted man? Was Alice his fantasy? Or was it a part of Victorian custom to photograph children in costume as he appeared to have done? Did Alice’s family know of the photograph of Alice as a beggar girl?

Due to destroyed correspondence and our own possible misunderstandings of the era, we may never know for sure. Yet, the mysteries in Alice Liddell Hargreaves’ life seem real in this novel. Her story here is both interesting and emotional.

A fictionalized biography is always a difficult situation. Given the lack of documented evidence, the situation could have been quite different from what Ms Benjamin portrayed. Nevertheless, regardless of what one thinks of Mr. Dodgson, Alice Have I Been is still a fascinating fictionalization.

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