Being Frog by April Pulley Sayre 

Being Frog by April Pulley Sayre 

Being Frog by April Pulley Sayre (9781534428812)

This gorgeous photo-filled picture book demonstrates that frogs are alive and that frogs are beings. Frogs have favorite things like we do, favorite logs and favorite rocks to sit on. Frogs hunt for food, jumping and leaping. They hide in the shadows and swim in the water. Frogs may have memories of when they were tadpoles. Perhaps they head on journeys over rocks before stopping to sun themselves for a bit. They might sit and think, letting time roll past, slow or fast. All just being a frog.

In her author note, Sayre speaks to the anthropomorphizing of animals in books for children and the importance of seeing animals as different but also important beings on their own. Inspired by her neighborhood frogs, she captured their days and wonders aloud about what they think, remember and do. It’s a picture book distinctly from a human point of view, wondering about nature and giving space for those moments of though for both the reader and the frog alike.

The photographs are stunning, filled with vibrant colors of yellows and green. The frog is center stage, eyes bulging and occasionally leaping towards its prey. The motions are captured rather like anyone at a pond sees frogs jump with glimpses of extended legs almost out of sight. 

Thoughtful and respectful of nature and our frog neighbors. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy provided by Beach Lane.

On Wings of Words by Jennifer Berne

On Wings of Words by Jennifer Berne

On Wings of Words: The Extraordinary Life of Emily Dickinson by Jennifer Berne, illustrated by Becca Stadtlander (9781452142975)

Emily Dickinson grew up in a small New England town. As a little girl, she explored the fields and gardens around her home, discovering new words and ways of thinking about the world around her. Her feelings were deeper than most people’s with higher joys and lower sadness. Her thoughts here also deeper, including her love for so much around her. She found sorrows and looked for solutions in school and church, but refused to put her faith in things she could not see. She had her own brand of hope, one that led her to her own truth too. That truth came to life in her poems, not shared with anyone, just with herself. They allowed her to express her feelings and the way she looked at the world, puzzle through things, and ask questions that could not be readily answered. Those same words now inspire so many readers to do the same, find their own voice, look at the world from their own lens: just as Emily did.

Berne writes her prose with a thoughtfulness that allows her to intersperse many of Dickinson’s own words in the text. Dickinson’s poems fly on the page, lifting it up in the way only she can. Berne then serves as her foundational story, offering clarity about Dickinson’s life and then pairing those with poems. It’s a delightful way to introduce young readers to poetry and to Emily Dickinson herself. 

The illustrations have a lot of historically accurate elements like the Dickinson home and surroundings. Still, my favorite illustrations are the ones where Emily’s imagination soars along with the illustrations which become whimsical and wild. 

A grand look at a great poet’s life and work. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy provided by Chronicle Books.