Review of Dear Treefrog

Dear Treefrog
by Joyce Sidman; illus. by Diana Sudyka
Primary    Houghton    40 pp.    g
5/21    978-0-358-06476-3    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-358-06671-2    $12.99

In what is in essence a nonfiction early-chapter-book in verse, a young girl moves to a new home. She’s lonely, but when she explores the garden, she observes a small treefrog. With no friends, she adopts the treefrog as a surrogate companion and searches for it every day. An expository note placed in the lower right-hand corner of every double-page spread expands each sighting by providing scientific facts about the treefrog’s habitat and life cycle. Sidman’s narrative, composed of a series of short poems, relates the girl’s story of discovering and contemplating the frog, and of eventually finding a human friend who is also happy to observe nature. Sudyka’s watercolors showcase the settings and give life to the metaphors — the changing seasons; the rich jewel tones of the frog’s surroundings; the treefrog clinging to a leaf, or “snug saddle”; and the quiet pleasures of sharing nature. The language in these poems is simple but not ­simplistic: “I hope you are / somewhere / safe / ­Treefrog // holding on tight / with those grippy toes / riding your / snug saddle of leaves.” Each entry crafts a single episode; together the poems construct a clear narrative arc. Appended with a four-part discussion, nicely organized with pertinent headings, about treefrogs and their survival. Altogether lovely.

From the May/June 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Betty Carter
Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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