Book review: Never Satisfied: The Story of the Stonecutter, by Dave Horowitz

Horowitz, Dave. Never Satisfied: The Story of the Stonecutter. Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Young Readers Group, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 9780399548468. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P7 Q7

Stanley the stonecutter, a frog, notices a businessman and wishes he was a businessman. Suddenly, to his surprise, he is transformed into a businessman. Soon, he discovers that being a king would be really nice. As Stanley is transformed from one thing to another, he realizes he is never satisfied. The text and vivid cut-paper illustrations add depth and playfulness to the story. Stanley’s large frog eyes are prominent in every thing that Stanley is transformed into. The idea for this story was taken from a Chinese folktale The Stonecutter. The author was tired of writing, so he went back to school and became a paramedic. He told his co-worker about his journey and how he ended up being a paramedic. His coworker said it sounded like the Chinese parable the stone cutter. Horowitz wrote this story based on the folktale.

Verdict: Similar to the grass is greener on the other side, this story shows that while it may look like more fun to be something else, being yourself is good after all. I highly recommend this book for libraries with elementary age children.

September 2018 review by Tami Harris.


Book review: Can I tell you a secret?, by Anna Kang, illustrated by Christopher Weyant

Kang, Anna. Can I tell you a secret? Illus. Christopher Weyant. Harper, 2016. unp. $17.99. ISBN: 978-0-06-239684-6. Gr.K+. P8 Q8

A bright green frog engages the reader with a big “PSSST!” “Yes, You.” He hates to bother the reader but he needs help and he needs to speak to someone about his secret, “I can’t swim. I’m afraid of the water.” This is a great problem that frog has had since he was a “tadpole.” He has managed his problem through some very quick thinking. Though you never see the character who frog is speaking to you see the advice that is given. That advice, to talk to his parents. Frog does and finds out they have known all along and want to help. It is a big splash into the water with his friends that ends poor frog’s fear of water. He invites the reader to come back tomorrow. The artist, Weyan, used watercolor and ink to show how frog overcomes his fear of water. I laughed at some of frog’s quick thinking moments that kept him out of the water.

Verdict: Young children may have things that really frighten them. This book is one that could be used in a lesson to talk about their fears.

July 2018 review by Carol Bernardi.

Book review: Ribbit, by Jorey Hurley

Hurley, Jorey. Ribbit. Simon & Schuster, 2017. Unpaged. $16.99. ISBN 9781481432740. Ages 3-5. P8Q8

Simple, bold illustrations created in Photoshop combined with a single word in each 2-page spread introduce young children to the first year in the life cycle of the northern leopard frog.  The changes from egg to tadpole, tadpole to polliwog, polliwog to froglet, and then to adult hibernating, before beginning the cycle again are given in the illustrations, though the words for the stages are not a part of the book.  Even the ideas of frog as both predator and prey come through in the pictures.

Verdict:  This introduction to the life cycle of frogs is an effective early science book. The visual design is striking, but the spare text does not introduce naming words such as tadpole.  The author’s note at the end of the book does fill in some gaps, but may not be as useful for very young readers. Recommended for preschool, kindergarten and public library collections.

May 2018 review by Jane Cothron.

Book review: The Queen of the Frogs, by Davide Cali, translated by Lyn Miller-Lachmann, illustrations by Marco Somà

Cali, Davide. The Queen of the Frogs. Translated from Portuguese by Lyn Miller-Lachmann.  Illustrations by Marco Somà. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2017. unp. $15.40. ISBN: 978-0-8028-5481-0. Gr. 1+. P8 Q9

This modern fable, which comes from Portugal, is a delightful story of a young frog who becomes queen, after finding a crown in the local pond. The other frogs bow down to her and are soon doing her biding, a situation that they soon find tiring. The illustrations are earthy tones and are very detailed of the pond life and its inhabitants.

Verdict: I would use this book to introduce fable writing to elementary and middle school age children.

January 2018 review by Carol Bernardi.

Book review: Once Upon a Frog, by Sarah Mlynowski

Mlynowski, Sarah.  Once Upon A Frog. (Whatever After series, #8) Scholastic Press, 2016. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-545-74660-1. 159 p. Gr. 3-7. P8Q8

mlynowski-once-upon-a-frogSiblings, Abby and Jonah, have discovered a magical mirror in their basement.  Despite promising their parents that they won’t use it, they do and it transports them into a fairy tale world.  They’re expected to help complete the fairy tale with the occasional help of a fairy godmother (absent in this volume).  This adventure is a retelling of the Frog Prince.

Verdict: This is a fast paced novel.  With more development and references to the original fairy tale, this could be a much longer tome, but Mlynowski keeps the pace moving and gives a satisfying, abbreviated version of the original.  Abby and Jonah have to solve their own problems and prove characters that are relatable.

October 2016 review by Shelly Jones.

Book review: Freddy the Frogcaster

Dean, Janice. “Freddy the Frogcaster.” Illustrated by Russ Cox. Regency Kids, 2013. $16.95. ISBN 9781621570844. Unp. Ages K-Grade 2. P8/Q9

This book will be a great resource for a classroom that is studying weather and forecasting. Then end of the book has a section with definitions and picture explanations about clouds, weather maps, wind etc. There is also website for more information on weather. The pictures are big, bright and engaging in this story of a white frog who enjoys predicting the weather and saves the town’s celebration by predicting the weather correctly. October 2014 review by Melinda Dye.