First published in the 1970s, Lobel’s Frog and Toad short stories are remembered with affection by many children of that period, including me. I rediscovered them as an adult and found the kindness and gentle humour of the stories had stayed with me all that time. I have bought the books for early readers, adults, and many ages in between.
The collected stories are now available in a lovely collected hardback edition released last year, with a new foreword by Gruffalo author and huge Lobel fan Julia Donaldson. She notes that the books are “intended for beginner readers but also are great for parents to read aloud at bedtime. They are fables really, about endearing human weaknesses such as greed, self-consciousness, laziness and addiction to routine”.
Frog and Toad are best friends who face life’s small and larger challenges together. The characters are easy to relate to. In The Letter, Toad explains to Frog that the morning is “my sad time of day” when he always waits for the mail to come, even though he never gets any mail. Frog sits with him and they feel sad together. Frog then goes home and writes Toad a letter, which reads: “Dear Toad, I am glad that you are my best friend. Your best friend, Frog”. Toad is very pleased with this letter, although it doesn’t arrive for four days because Frog has given it to a snail to deliver.
The stories are children’s classics, especially in the US, but have a deeper cultural and personal significance as well (see http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/frog-and-toad-an-amphibious-celebration-of-same-sex-love).
We also stock the more portable paperback editions of the individual story collections. The engaging two-tone pictures complete the endearing quality of the book. A book to keep forever.
Review by Bethan