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14:14 PB ELEMENTS – Frog Song – WORD PLAY

February 27, 2015

My last book for the 14:14 Challenge is not your ordinary ‘ribbit.’

Frog Song 1Frog Song
author Brenda Guiberson
illustrator Gennady Spirin

(c) Henry Holt & Co. LLC

(1,375 words, AR Reading Level 4.5)

Lush in the color and detail of Spirin’s illustration, this picture book is also rich in language with Guiberson’s lyrical approach to the lives of frogs.  Like most good non-fiction works, the focus is narrowed to a particular aspect, in this case, frog song.

First, what kid–any age between 2 and 62–wouldn’t grab a book with a cover like this off the shelf and hop to the first cozy lily-pad to read about a big red frog? I did.

Furthermore, consider the opening page, full of word play:

Frogs have a song for trees, bogs, burrows, and logs. When frogs have enough moisture to keep gooey eggs, squirmy tadpoles, and hoppity adults from drying out, they can sing almost anywhere. Croak! Ribbit! Bzzzt! Plonk! Brack! Thrum-rum!

Frog Song 2Every spread shares interesting facts from the lives of normal to unusual frogs. Some I’ve never heard of. Some I know well.

Their songs are printed in various fonts, splayed across colorful habitat backgrounds.

Word play features such as onomatopoeia, assonance, metaphor, alliteration, consonance…all are in place in this book. After all, it’s a book about swamp music. Sound is the main character.

Kids will love the uncommon behavior of some of these amphibians, but will also have fun ‘performing’ the various calls that appear on every page. I did.

This book is an exemplary model of how story elements such as word play can be used to elevate non-fiction above the simplicity of bare facts.  If you find this book, I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

(See a list of other reviewers’ posts in Christi’s latest post at Write Wild.)

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. ManjuBeth permalink
    February 27, 2015 1:16 pm

    How many pages is Frog Song? With 1,375 words and AR Reading Level 4.5 – it appears older than picture book level.

    • February 27, 2015 1:30 pm

      Manju, it’s 36 pages long. It didn’t seem long to me. I don’t think that counts any endpage words, though there are two pages of facts on the frogs pictured that are fact lists. I can see 4th and 5th grade boys loving this, as it features the unique and different aspects of odd frogs.

      • ManjuBeth permalink
        February 27, 2015 5:23 pm

        You’re right – 36 pages isn’t too long. And I bet this frog book jumps off library shelves. 🙂

  2. February 27, 2015 4:05 pm

    This sounds like a really fun resource – especially for trying to vocalize all those frog song words!

  3. February 27, 2015 4:40 pm

    Damon, you do such an awesome job of finding magic in nonfiction books! Words used in magical ways like in this book is what keeps kids reading nonfiction. Thanks for sharing!

  4. February 27, 2015 5:39 pm

    you’re right. Who could resist that cover? And, hey, frogs are neat! What’s even neater are the snippets of text you shared. This sounds (no pun intended) like a great book.

  5. February 27, 2015 9:10 pm

    I’m so glad you’ve been our dedicated non-fiction reviewer for the challenge, because that’s one area where I’m really not in-the-know. Thanks for introducing me to so many great ones!

  6. April 13, 2016 7:57 am

    Came here from No Water River, Damon. I will have to get my hands on this book. A “lyrical approach to the lives of frogs” most definitely has me intrigued. And who knows, maybe another opportunity for kissing…?

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