Book Review: 999 Tadpoles by Ken Kimura

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999 Tadpoles by Ken Kimura, illustrated by Yasunari Murakami

Released May 1, 2011.

999 tadpoles are born in a small pond but when they turn into frogs, they completely run out of room to even breathe!  So mother and father frog decide they must find a new home to live in.  All of the 999 tadpoles follow their father across a big field.  He warns them about the dangers of snakes, just a moment before the little frogs come dragging a sleepy snake up to him.  They escape that danger, but don’t notice the hawk circling above them.  Down comes the hawk and grabs the father frog in his talons.  But when he flies up into the sky again, it is not just the father frog that comes along for the ride, but all of the frog family.  It’s a much heavier load than the hawk can manage, but what will happen if the frogs are dropped?

Kimura has written a book is a friendly, conversational style that is a pleasure to read aloud.  The voices of the little frogs and their parents are clear and individual.  Get ready to speak in more than one froggy voice for this book!  Kimura has also built plenty of action into his story which has adventure and dangers that will keep children’s attention.

Murakami’s illustrations create a very unique feel to the book.  Using white space to great effect, the polished yet simple illustrations have a graphic appeal to them.  With so many of the illustrations being shown from the overhead perspective, the humor of the number of little frogs is never lost. 

A book about tadpoles and frogs that focuses on fun, family, and humor.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from NorthSouth Books.

Also reviewed by Kids Book Review.

Book Review: Clancy & Millie and the Very Fine House by Libby Gleeson

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Clancy & Millie and the Very Fine House by Libby Gleeson, illustrated by Freya Blackwood

When Clancy and his family move to a new house, everyone is delighted, except Clancy.  Clancy think everything about the new house is too big.  He fondly remembers his old room, the old fireplace, the old house.  Clancy heads outside to play and discovers the huge pile of cardboard boxes left from the move.  He starts to play in them and then hears someone’s voice.  It’s Millie, a new neighbor.  The two play together with the boxes, finally building a house out of them, a very fine house.

Gleeson has captured the uncertainty of a move.  She never descends into melodrama here, instead speaking directly to Clancy’s feelings and reactions to the new home.  Children who have experienced a move, even one they enjoyed, will recognize the emotions here.  Gleeson’s use of the moving boxes as a way to deal with the move and make a new friend is very clever.  They change from a symbol of what Clancy moved away from into a symbol of what he moved to. 

Blackwood’s illustrations show the move from Clancy’s point of view.  The rooms of the new house loom, gray and empty around him.  The images from his memories are brighter and cozier, clearly contrasting with the new home.  The tower of boxes seems taller than the houses when Clancy heads outside.  The potential is there is the gravity-defying stack. 

This is a great book about moving, making new friends, and the power of imagination to create new connections and memories.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.