Sunday, April 03, 2016

NPM Celebrations - National Frog Month

April is National Frog Month. Found on every continent, frogs and toads (which are just a type of frog) are amphibians belonging to the order Anura. Coming in a wide array of sizes and colors, there are more than 6000 species of frogs worldwide. Perhaps most surprising to many is the fact that frogs have existed on the earth for more than 200 million years. This fact leads nicely into my first choice for today's celebration.

Tadpole Rex, written and illustrated by Kurt Cyrus, is a story told in verse that includes dinosaurs, the story of a frog's growth and possible connection to these extinct creatures, and bold artwork with up-close and personal views of a range of creatures. And really, what reader wouldn't fall in love with a book that begins this way?
Deep in the goop of a long-ago swamp,
a whopping big dinosaur went for a stomp.

Stomp! went the dinosaur. Squish! went the goop.
Up came the bubbles--
The life cycle of the frog, the demise of the dinosaurs, the explosion of amphibians in the class aura--it's all here in a perfect combination of poetry and science. For those needing a bit more information, Cyrus has added an author's note that explains the "inner tyrannosaur" reference and shares a bit of frog history. Here's an excerpt.
Frogs really did live alongside tyrannosaurs and triceratops. In fact, frogs existed 100 million years before these particular dinosaurs evolved. Fossils show that some prehistoric frogs had short legs, while others had long. Some had wide heads, others narrow. And many, like Rex, had well-developed teeth. Frogs came in all shapes and sizes, just as they do today.
The author's note ends with information about the challenges that frogs face today--pollution, climate change, habitat loss, and more.

Toad by the Road: A Year in the Life of These Amazing Amphibians, written by Joanne Ryder and illustrated by Maggie Kneen, is a collection of 26 poems about the life cycle of the toad. Grouped by season—Spring-Summer, Summer, Late Summer-Fall, and Winter-Spring—each section contains from five to seven poems. On nearly every page readers will find a poem, illustration and brief bit of informational text. Most poems are told in the voice of a toad or group of tadpoles or toads. Here is one of my favorite poems from the book.

Zap, Zap

My tongue is a tool—
Far better than most—
For catching my breakfast,
Though I shouldn't boast.
It's long and it's swift
And it's covered with goo.
I flick it at cricket
And stick him like glue.

This poem is accompanied by the following bit of informational text.
A toad waits and watches an insect or worm creep near. Then it flicks out its sticky tongue to catch it prey. The toad swallows its meal whole and then wipes its mouth clean.
Poem and text ©Joanne Ryder. All rights reserved.

Marsh Music, written by Marianne Berkes and illustrated by Robert Noreika, is a story in verse in which ten different species of frogs meet in a marsh to begin a concert that lasts through the night. Here is how it begins.

The rain has stopped.
Night is coming.
The pond awakes with
quiet humming.

Maestro frog hops to the mound
As night begins to fill with sound.

Peepers peep pe-ep, peep, peep.
They have had a good day’s sleep!

Chorus frogs are hard to see.
Hear them chirping do re mi.

Then the other frogs come in.
Soon the concert will begin.

Text ©Marianne Berkes. All rights reserved.

Back matter of the book includes a glossary of musical terms, as well as information about the species of frogs in the story. “The Cast” of amphibian performers includes “Maestro” Bullfrog, Spring Peepers, Chorus Frogs, American Toads, Green Frogs, Narrow-mouthed Toads, Wood Frogs, Pig Frogs, Green Tree Frogs, Leopard Frogs, and Barking Tree Frogs.

Lizards, Frogs, and Polliwogs, written and illustrated by Douglas Florian, is a collection of 21 poems that 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. Here's an excerpt.

The Glass Frog
by Douglas Florian

Upon a tree
It’s hard to see
Which part is leaf
And which is me
Which part is me
And which is leaf
I’ve lost myself again—
Good grief!

Poem ©Douglas Florian. All rights reserved.

You can find a wealth of resources to extend this topic in the thematic list on frogs and toads.

While you are enjoying some froggy poetry and verse today, why not fold yourself an origami frog?

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our next celebration.

1 comment:

  1. Fun books! I hadn't heard of Tadpole Rex. I put it on hold at my library!