As a writer, I’m interested in exploring and challenging stereotypes and pigeonholing. So as a reader I seek out books about those who question stereotypes and push against boundaries. But in tandem with shooting for the moon and not letting yourself be limited by what others expect or don’t expect from you, it’s also important to recognize and accept who you are. That’s where I DON’T WANT TO BE A FROG comes in. This funny story about a wee frog who wants to be anything but a frog packs a powerful message of self-acceptance without being didactic.
Title: I DON’T WANT TO BE A FROG
Written by: Dev Petty
Illustrated by: Mike Boldt
Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2015, Fiction
Fun for Ages: 3 and UP
Themes/Topics: identity, self-acceptance, gratitude, parent-child relationship
Young frog: I want to be a CAT.
Dad frog: You can’t be a CAT.
Young frog: Why not?
Summary (from publisher): A frog who yearns to be any animal that is cute and warm discovers that being wet, slimy, and full of bugs has its advantages.
Why I LOVE This Book: Dev Petty uses wry humor and repetition to subtly convey the message of self-acceptance. And the humor gets me giggling aloud on every read. Here’s my favorite laugh-out-loud exchange:
Dad frog: You can’t be a Pig.
Young frog: Why not?
Dad frog: Most of all because you’re a Frog. But also because you don’t have a curly tail or eat garbage.
Young frog: I can eat garbage.
Dad frog: Everyone says that until they eat garbage. Sorry, you can’t be a Pig.
The entire story is told very effectively through snappy dialogue conveyed with colored speech bubbles. And Mike Boldt’s vivid illustrations perfectly express the emotions of both the wide-eyed young frog and the down-to-earth dad frog.
Ideas for Teachers: Teachers might read this book as part of a larger unit on self-acceptance, self-compassion, and/or gratitude. Students could create and share lists about what they DO like about themselves.
(For a colossal list of links to picture book reviews, along with resources, please visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s site: http://susannahill.com/for-teachers-and-parents/perfect-picture-books/.)