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.

(Cybils 2012) This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

Sequels are always tricky.

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen (Candlewick, 2012) is a follow-up to Klassen’s highly successful I Want My Hat Back, which was about a bear searching for his hat among his forest friends … and ended with a spot of rabbit fur. I Want My Hat Back provided a regular pattern: asking, answering, and large text to help my budding reader. It flowed in a wonderful way.

This is Not My Hat changes the scene a little bit. Now a small fish is telling the reader about the hat he has stolen from a large fish, convincing the reader that the other fish will not know who it was who took his hat. The illustrations tell otherwise.

For me, though, the story, while similar and clever much as This Is Not My Hat, seems to lack the same sense of pattern. Reading it aloud with my young reader does not provide the same feeling of reading along. While my son actually wanted to “sing” I Want My Hat Back because of the feeling of pattern he got reading it, This Is Not My Hat failed to provide that same feeling. It was clever, yes, but it ultimately fell short of fantastic for me. There was no underlying passion such as I felt when reading I Want My Hat Back.

Many people seem to love this book just as much as the first, however. Please talk with me about it.

  • What about this book makes it stand out to you?
  • If you were unfamiliar with the first book, would you love this book as much as you do?
  • What about this book makes it successful for you?

I get the humor, and I enjoy the minimalist artwork. But it just did not do much for me or my son as we read it together. Compared to other books published in the last year, this one just fell flat for me.