Follow That Frog! by Philip C. Stead

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Follow That Frog! by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Matthew Cordell (9780823444267)

The great combination of Stead and Cordell return with another energetic and funny picture book collaboration. In a house full of chickens, there is a knock on the door. Sadie rushes to wake up Aunt Josephine. But Aunt Josephine is much more interested in sharing a tale of her time in Peru cataloging amphibians for Admiral Rodriguez who recently experienced a tragic banana accident. His son was flirting with Josephine when suddenly he was swallowed by a giant frog. Josephine gave chase, trying to catalog the fast-moving frog and rather disinterested in the fate of the Admiral’s son. The frog fled around the world, through deserts aboard an ostrich, into the waters of the Panama Canal, onto the back of a whale, all to lose sight of the frog forever. But who could be at the door?

Stead’s text is marvelous, moving from the rather wordy but fascinating Aunt Josephine into her story which is fast paced and frenetic. The journey around the world is great fun, dashing along behind the huge frog. There is so much to enjoy here, including Josephine’s ignoring of the Admiral’s son in all of this, her interest in nature and the world, and the story-within-a-story structure. The ending is also a delight sure to satisfy readers.

Cordell’s illustrations fit perfectly with Stead’s writing. His merry illustrations add to the wild storyline with their large fonts. His truly huge frog is interesting as are the chickens peppered around the place. Throughout there is a sense of giggles rising to the surface.

A grand escapade of a picture book. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy provided by Neal Porter Books.

The Highest Tribute: Thurgood Marshall’s Life, Leadership, and Legacy by Kekla Magoon

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The Highest Tribute: Thurgood Marshall’s Life, Leadership, and Legacy by Kekla Magoon, illustrated by Laura Freeman (9780062912510)

This picture book biography tells the life story of the first Black justice on the Supreme Court. It begins with Marshall changing his first name in second grade from Thoroughgood. From a child, Marshall knew that there were things that needed to change in the world around him, including segregation. Marshall discovered a love of the law and of debate in school, before heading to Lincoln University for college. He wanted to attend law school at the University of Maryland, but they did not admit Black students, so he attended Howard University, another Black college. As a young lawyer, Marshall won a case to allow a Black student to attend the University of Maryland. He worked on all sorts of civil rights cases with his most famous being arguing before the Supreme Court against school segregation and winning. He argued seven cases before the Supreme Court in his career, winning new rights for Black people along the way. Marshall was asked by JFK to become a judge and was himself sworn in as a member of the Supreme Court in 1967.

Magoon has created a focused and interesting biography for young readers in this nonfiction picture book. She takes a man of many accomplishments and highlights those of the most importance. By starting in his early years, she shows how a passion at a young age can become a career and a way to make a difference in our world. Her writing is insightful and fast moving, taking us through his career and personal life without her pace dragging at all.

Freeman’s illustrations focus on Marshall and the people around him. Even on the pages focused on his education, Marshall stays right in the center of the images rather than the university buildings. This focus on Marshall as a person centers the book visually, matching the text. The captures famous faces beyond Marshall’s in a recognizable yet simple way.

A resounding success of a biography. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by HarperCollins.