Friday, February 7, 2014

Tadpole's Promise - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

     This week we have Valentine's Day AND the winter Olympics to celebrate. Being the softie that I am, I went with the Valentine's Day theme of love for my picture book selection.
     But be forewarned--this is a Grimm's fairy tale kind of love story. The kind of story where happy endings aren't a given. So maybe I'm not such a big softie after all.
     While I often review new releases, so we can share the thrill of discovery together, this week, I'm looking back to 2005, to the re-discovery of a book I enjoyed before I started reviewing perfect picture books. For my U.K. friends, this was a 2003 book, but those of us who live across the pond didn't get to read it until two years later!
    
     Title: Tadpole's promise
Note: new editions have a different cover

     Author: Jeanne Willis
     (also the author of Bog Baby, another favorite of mine!)
     Illustrator: Tony Ross

     Publisher: Atheneum Books for young readers, 2005 (U.S.)
     FICTION

     Audience: 5-12 HUGE Caveat:
     While the subject is simple, and some listings say the book is for ages 5 and up (Scholastic lists this as a K-2 interest book), I think older kids will enjoy the wry humor. The laugh out loud ending may NOT be suitable for many younger readers.
     Themes:  Humor, Love, metamorphosis

     Opening Lines: "Where the willow meets the water, a tadpole met a caterpillar. They gazed into each other's tiny eyes. . . ."

     Synopsis: A tadpole and a caterpillar fall in love and promise each other that they'll never change. Then metamorphosis takes place. Are the lovebirds still a perfect match?

     What I like about this book: The story AND the structure. The photo of the book cover above isn't a mistake. I didn't "forget" to turn the camera sideways. If you sit with the book in your lap and the title reads correctly, you open the book by lifting the pages up, not right to left. While this is harder to do than a "normal" page turn, it allows the illustrator to have the two spreads show action simultaneously above water and below water.
Crease in the middle - showing a partial top and bottom spread!
     See! It's genius.
     The text playfully recounts how, despite their best intentions, the creatures' can't escape their destiny: metamorphosis. And if you're expecting a happy ending? If you love slightly bawdy humor, this book is for you. [SPOILER ALERT: Tender-of-heart butterfly lovers may want to skip this book]

     Activities/resources: The book is read on Youtube here. Honestly, I don't like the reading. I don't like the "voices" the reader used. He uses a French accent for the tadpole, which is borderline racist in my book. But you can see the illustrations as he goes along. A less accurate portrayal, but way cuter, is this Vimeo video where Grade 2 students re-tell the story with their own illustrations. The "think educate share" blog from the U.K. has several great resources for this book but you do have to register with their site to view them. Texas librarian suggests using this book with 5th Graders to discuss their transition to middle school and what happens when you're not prepared for change. The book is a perfect way for science teachers to bring the subject of metamorphosis alive. At the high school level, teachers could use the book in a discussion of tragedies and ill-fated romances such as Romeo and Juliet. 

This review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. Along with tons of writing wisdom, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. #PPBF


    


    

18 comments:

  1. I pull this one out again and again. BIG fan of this team!

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    1. I worried I was the only one who appreciated their subversive sense of humor. I should have known I could count on you!

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  2. I was intrigued! Watched the Youtube video. The illo of the caterpillar with tiny crossed arms is so funny!

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    1. The illustrations are brilliant. Emotive. Funny. Everything you'd want.

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  3. Hmmm. This looks very interesting. Funny with a kick? And I like that you've made it relevant for ALL ages! I'll have to look for this one. Thanks!

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    1. This is the first book in awhile that had me gasping -- and then laughing out loud.

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  4. What a very unusual and quirky book. I watched the video knowing there would be an unhappy ending. Liked your suggestions to use the book, because I had to think moment. I really enjoyed the illustrations. I like the layout a lot.

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    1. I'm a fan of quirky. And this one certainly is. Whether or not the ending is unhappy??---it is a touch of unexpected reality.

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  5. Clever ending, and I think more for older kids. I Laughed out loud, I confess!

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  6. what a funny book - definitely for older kids! and frog-lovers of all ages.

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    1. Most young kids I know are less sentimental than the adults. So if the reader laughs, I think they will laugh, too!

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  7. I want to read this just to find out how it ends! Think I'll skip the video though.

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    1. You can always PM me to find out. :)

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  8. What a clever premise, Wendy, and even more clever is the way the book was printed. I do love butterflies, but now I am curious as to the outcome of the story. Thanks for piquing my interest!

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