Conversation voice picture books are difficult to master. Try telling a compelling story through dialogue alone. It’s TOADally not easy. Which is one of the reasons I’m gushing about I Don’t Want to Be a Frog, written by Dev Petty and illustrated by Mike Boldt. Hop down to read the rest of today’s gush!
Synopsis: A young frog has one wish: to be anything BUT a frog. He’d rather be a cat, rabbit, or pig. Even being an owl would do. No matter what his father says, the young frog will take anything over his bug-eating-amphibian existence. Then a large, menacing animal struts by and shows just how lucky he is to be a frog.
As I mentioned above, I love the composition of the text. Petty masterfully crafts an entertaining story with a clear problem from the first spread. This PB is now one of my dialogue-only mentor texts. Each of the three characters has distinct personalities and thoughts, and the reader notices this immediately, no narration needed. As a writer, I appreciate when other writers do this well, A LOT.
Boldt’s illustrations add so much to the story. I love how the pictures zoom in at certain points of dialogue. For example, when young frog, who wants to be a rabbit at one point, says “Why not? Look, I can hop!” the illustration shows only frog’s feet as they leave the ground. These focused images emphasize the text and show how much frog wants to be anything but a frog.
Also, I love the cover—frog stands with his froggy hands on his froggy hips and yells, “I DON’T WANT TO BE A FROG.” The reader knows the story problem without even opening the book. How cool is that?
And of course, the subtle message of self-acceptance is wonderful here. Many of us have wanted to be someone or something else, at least for a little. The climax of this story highlights that though you might not like everything about you, you’re lucky to be you and you should celebrate it!