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Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 9 years, 9 months ago

28 May 2010 CITY DOG, COUNTRY FROG by Mo Willems (words) and Jon Muth (pictures), Hyperion DBG, June 2010, 64p., ISBN: 978-1-4231-0300-4


"I need someone I can cry to

I need someone to protect"

-- Mick Jagger/Keith Richards, "Waiting on a Friend"


Since having the pleasure of viewing an exhibit of the words and images from this book at a Book Expo-related event a few days ago -- an experience I will long remember -- I keep thinking: Whoever would want to try going two-on-two against a duo like this?  I mean, come on!  It would be bad enough going two-on-one against either Mo Willems or Jon Muth.  Even before they've had their morning coffee.  But together? 


"And I'll build me a life in the open

A life in the country"

-- Carole King, "Sweet Seasons"


CITY DOG, COUNTRY FROG, by Mo and Muth, is a poetic, funny, and stunningly beautiful picturebook tale of friendship in five chapters: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring Again.  If there is such a thing as perfection in the world of picturebooks, this is definitely located in that neighborhood. 


In the spring, a leash-less City Dog running in the country encounters a Country Frog sitting on a rock:


"'What are you doing?' asked City Dog.

"'Waiting for a friend,' replied Country Frog with a smile.

"'But you'll do.'"


The two new friends proceed to play together.  Since the dog "was new to the country," he follows the frog's lead in playing games (that involve "jumping and splashing and croaking.")


When the dog returns to his friend's rock in the second chapter -- Summer-- it is the dog's turn to teach his friend games (that involve "sniffing and fetching and barking").  One of the dozen best illustrations in the book depicts City Dog racing after the stick that Country Frog has just thrown a great distance.  It just makes me giggle again and again to see at how far that frog can throw.


"City Dog and Country Frog played until Country Frog was too tired to sniff and fetch and bark anymore."


When the dog once again returns to the frog's rock -- in the Fall chapter -- Country Frog is tired, so they play remembering games. 


And then Winter comes.


"City Dog didn't stop to eat the snow; he ran straight for Country Frog's rock."


But Country Frog IS NOT THERE!  It totally breaks my heart every time I read through the book again, looking at City Dog sitting on that frog's rock, alone, waiting on his friend.


Then, in the final chapter, Spring Again,  


"Country Chipmunk spotted something she had never seen, sitting on a rock. 

"(It was City Dog.)

"'What are you doing?' asked Country Chipmunk.

"Waiting for a friend,' replied City Dog sadly.

"Then he smiled a froggy smile and said..."


(Okay, come on.  What did he say?)


Maybe it has something to do with my own memory of having -- a half-century ago -- been inspired to learn to read by a picturebook dog story from the library that I'd made my mom read over and over to me (MULEY-EARS: NOBODY'S DOG by Marguerite Henry, Rand McNally, 1959).  But I can just imagine the multitudes of kids in coming years who -- after hearing CITY DOG, COUNTRY FROG -- will want to learn how to read these words for themselves, and who will always remember to smile big, old froggy smiles every time they encounter a new friend.


Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.com
Moderator http://groups.yahoo.com/middle_school_lit/

FTC NOTICE: Richie receives free books from lots of publishers who hope he will Pick their books.  You can figure that any review was written after reading and dog-earring a free copy received.  Richie retains these review copies for his rereading pleasure and for use in his booktalks at schools and libraries.

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