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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review: City Dog, Country Frog (Willems)

Title: City Dog, Country Frog
Author: Willems/ Illustrator: Muth
Genre: Picture Book, Friendship
Pages:  It's a picture book, you can handle it!
Rating: 5 our of 5 stars!  Though I would give it more, if I could...
As you know, I posted my Summer Reading Suggestions for Kindergarten through High School at the beginning of June.  (You can find the lists here, by the way).  As always, there are books that do not make it onto my Summer Reading lists.  Often, it is because I just don't think they were that good (I'm admittedly picky, somewhat of a book snob if you will).  Sometimes it is simply a matter of the books being too new or not yet published.  If the public library does not have a book in their catalog by the time I post the lists, I often leave a title off the list.

Such was the case with "City Dog, Country Frog."  Though it was published on June 8th, our public library system did not have it available until just this week when I was finally able to check out this book.  As you know, I get BOXES (and boxes, and boxes--am on a first name basis with FedEx and UPS drivers in my area) of advance copies of books for teens, but I RARELY see advance copies of picture books.  So, I have to be a regular library patron and wait until they are published.

Mo Willems is the talented creator of the Pigeon character ("Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus" among others) and one of my all-time favorites, "Knuffle Bunny."  (He has numerous books published and they are all WONDERFUL, I promise.  My daughter is big fan of his "Elephant and Piggie" books).  Jon J. Muth is an amazing illustrator/author.  His version of "Stone Soup" is one of my all-time favs from my public library/storytime days.

Back to "City Dog, Country Frog."  I am always looking for teen fiction that moves me, that makes me say "Wow!"  And I have to say that lately, I have been in a slump with my reading.  I just seem to be picking uninteresting titles...good, decent, but nothing I love.  When this picture book came in on hold for me, I decided it was time to mix it up.  I am SO glad that I did.  The only thing I can really say about this book is "WOW!!!" 

In spring, when City Dog runs free in the country for the first time, he spots Country Frog sitting on a rock, waiting for a friend. "You'll do," Frog says, and together the two new friends play Country Frog games. In summer, they meet again and play City Dog games. Through the seasons, whenever City Dog visits the country he runs straight for Country Frog's rock.  This is a story of unlikely friendships.  It is not of the same humorous genre of Willems other titles, but you will not miss the hilarity.  The text is spare, but filled with emotion.  The beautiful illustrations are captivating and expressive.  It tugged at my heart and truly moved me.  It is everything I have been looking for in a book recently and I got it in just a few pages.

Parents, this is a must for those of you with young children.  (Read it through once before sharing with your child...some might find it a little sad).  Teachers, this is a must for your preschool-early elementary classroom.  I cannot wait to hear what you think!

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