Thursday, February 28, 2008

Leaping Into Books About Frogs (And Other Amphibians)

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has declared 2008 as the Year of the Frog. (You can learn more about this at Leap Into the Year of the Frog.) In honor of all things amphibian, I thought it might be fun to explore some books and poems for learning about frogs, toads and other amphibians. I have grouped these selections into nonfiction, poetry and fiction. Since the frog life cycle is usually a very big topic in the early elementary classroom, this selection of books will be particularly useful for these units of study.

  • Nic Bishop Frogs by Nic Bishop - This engaging text is accompanied by gorgeous photographs of frogs in their natural habitats. Readers will learn an amazing array of facts, both scientific and quirky. (You can read my review.)
  • All About Frogs by Jim Arnosky - Accompanied by beautiful acrylics, this book introduces amphibians and then discusses the characteristics, habitats, life cycle, diet, and more about frogs.
  • Frogs by Gail Gibbons - In steady Gibbons' style, full-color illustrations show readers the life cycles of frogs, exploring the stages from tadpole to adulthood. One helpful feature is the presentation of scientific terms in phonetic form. If you download the teacher's guide from her web site, there are two pages devoted to this book.
  • What's In the Pond? by Anne Hunter - This volume in the Hidden Life series looks at the frogs, tadpole, painted turtle, red-winged blackbird and more. On 10 double-page spreads, readers are presented with information on the left and illustrations on the right. Each section of text describes the physical features and behavior of each animal.
  • Frog Heaven: Ecology of a Vernal Pool by Doug Wechsler - Vernal pools are temporary wetlands that dry each summer, then refill during the fall, winter and spring. This book examines the changes in a vernal pool in the woods of Delaware and describes the creatures that live there.
  • From Tadpole to Frog by Wendy Pfeffer - This book in the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series introduces readers to the life cycle of frogs.
  • Red-eyed Tree Frog by Joy Cowley - Accompanied by the amazing photographs of Nic Bishop, this book describes the life of the Central American red-eyed tree frog.
  • The Moon of the Salamanders by Jean Craighead George - One of the books in the 13 moons series, this title describes the emergence of a spotted salamander from his winter hibernation.
  • The Frog by Sally Tagholm - Part of the Animal Lives series, this book focuses on the common frog (European) and describes its life cycle in rich detail.
  • Pond Life by Barbara Taylor - A title in the Look Closer series, this book uses amazing photographs and snippets of text to describe newts, jelly babies (frogs from egg to tadpole), adult frogs, and other pond inhabitants.
  • At the Frog Pond by Tilde Michels - Originally published in Germany, this English translation begins, "Did you ever wonder how a tadpole turns into a frog?/Did you ever stumble onto a secluded spot where you could hear and see the wondrous ways of nature--a clearing, a marsh--or a small frog pond?" From here, readers discover the ecology of a frog pond.
  • Lizards, Frogs, and Polliwogs by Douglas Florian - In 21 poems, brilliantly illustrated, Florian introduces readers to all manner of amphibians and reptiles, including polliwogs, the midwife toad, glass frog, wood frog, red-eyed tree frog, bullfrog, poison-dart frog, and spring peepers.
  • Pollywog Fishing in Water Pennies and Other Poems by N. M. Bodecker - This book contains poems about a variety of pond creatures. This one begins:
    polly woggle-woe
    --where did Polly go?
  • Listen for Me in Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems by Joyce Sidman - The first poem in this book describes spring peepers waking from their winter hibernation. It begins:
    Listen for me on a spring night,
    on a wet night,
    on a rainy night.
    Listen for me on a still night,
    for in the night, I sing.
  • It's a Frog's Life: My Story of Life in a Pond by Steve Parker - Written in journal format and accompanied by illustrations in different styles, a frog describes his life in spring when he wakes from hibernation, to winter, where he prepares for another long sleep.
  • Tuesday by David Wiesner - This Caldecott medal winner is a wordless picture book (almost!) in frogs riding lily pads like magic carpets sail over the countryside and into an unsuspecting town for an evening of fun.
  • A Toad for Tuesday by Russell Erickson - This is the story of an unlikely friendship between an owl and the toad he intends to eat for his birthday dinner. Read Puss Reboots review of the book.
  • A Frog in the Bog by Karma Wilson - A frog in a bog, sitting on a log, eats nearly everything in sight, from 1 tick to 5 snails. Now that he's fat from his meal, imagine his surprise when the log he is sitting on turns out to be alive!
Finally, and just for fun, you can download directions on folding an origami frog from the New Zealand Frogs site. You can also try this origami math lesson which includes a "fabulous frog" reproducible. Thanks to everyone who suggested titles on my original post. If I've missed a favorite of yours, please let me know and I'll add it to the list.

**Updated on 2/29/08** - Elaine at Wild Rose Reader has written a fabulous post called Leaping Lizards! It's the year of the Frog. In it she presents an original poem and highlights a number of outstanding poetry titles for studying frogs, toads and other amphibians.


  1. Tricia,

    I knew there was a children's book about vernal pools. I just couldn't remember the title. Thanks for listing "Frog Heaven" in your book recommendations.
    I think I'm going to get a copy for myself. Children--and adults--should be aware of the importance of these pools. (I wasn't until I was well into adulthood.)

    When I was teaching, I used to take my students to a wildlife sanctuary where guides would take us to the location of a vernal pool and talk about the seasonal cycle of the pool and the animals who lived in it.

    Happy Year of the Frog! I'll have a special Poetry Friday post at Wild Rose Reader tomorrow in honor of this special "amphibian awareness" year.

  2. Ooooh! I can't wait for your post tomorrow. Your message reminded me to check a few more poetry books, so I added one from Water Pennies and another from Butterfly Eyes.

    If it's alright with you, I'd like to add your post to this one once it's up.

  3. Tricia, great roundup of books here. Thanks! We read Frog Heaven last summer; I though it was an excellent took. Good photography, too.

  4. Tricia,

    Here's the URL to my post for The Year of the Frog:

  5. In honor of leap day, I posted reviews for the entire series of Commander Toad books by Jane Yolen.