Damn, they look good for their ages. Amphibians, eh? We read so many Arnold Lobel books in this house, it’s not funny. I realized my firstborn could read when I tried to skip a paragraph in a Mouse Tales story to hurry bedtime along and he said, “You missed this part here,” and pointed to the words. He was three and a half. My personal favourite of his books is Owl and Home, but we did Grasshopper on the Road, Uncle Elephant, all the F&T series, Mouse Tales, Mouse Soup, the Fables, etc. etc. Love them, and probably the most in-rotation books of our early days here, along with AA Milne and EB White. Here are a bunch of authors at Slate reflecting on the influence of Frog and Toad over the years.
“The very first thing is sad,” marvels Mac Barnett about the opening story in Frog and Toad Are Friends. Barnett, a prolific children’s book author whose work includes Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, is right about that. Though the book series by Arnold Lobel has filled young readers with a sense of warmth and closeness for five decades, Frog and Toad opens with disappointment and desperation. It is the first day of spring, and Frog is eager for a celebratory post-hibernation reunion. But Toad won’t get out of bed. He tells Frog to return in a month and hops back to sleep. Frog pleads, “But Toad, I will be lonely until then.” Instead of resigning himself to isolation, Frog sneaks back into Toad’s house, rips a handful of pages out of the calendar, wakes Toad back up, and tricks him into believing a month has passed. “Faced with the prospect of being alone for a month or committing an act of deception, he deceives his best friend,” Barnett explains. “And it’s a happy ending because they’re together. These amphibians, they act in complicated ways to each other, but the friendship is the only thing standing between them and despair.”