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The Frog House
by Mark Taylor
ISBN 0525461744 / 9780525461746 / 0-525-46174-4
Publisher Dutton Juvenile
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When author Mark Taylor was a boy, a friend of his family built a birdhouse to look just like an apple, and thus, The Frog House was born. As the title suggests, this apple-shaped birdhouse becomes a frog house when a tree frog moves in: "The frog had seen birds move into birdhouses, but never into a wooden apple. The people must have put this apple here just for me, he thought. It must be a frog house." Indeed. Of course, the other animals are fooled. A robin mistakes the frog house for an actual apple and pecks at it in search of worms. A crow tries to steal it for his nest. A beautiful bluebird mistakes it for a birdhouse and a squirrel hurts its teeth trying to bite it. Imagine the cat's disappointment to find a froggy inhabitant instead of a crunchy bird lunch: "I was so hoping for a bird. I'm a cat, and cats eat birds." The frog had never had so many visitors in his life! In the end, as the frog is proudly singing spring peeping songs, he receives another visitor--this time a beautiful green tree frog: "'Do come in and look around,' the tree frog said to her. And she did. She admired everything.... And she stayed." Barbara Garrison's wonderful, textured folk-art illustrations, described in detail in the front matter as collagraphs (from "collage" and "graphic"), actually include dried leaves from apple trees! Children will adore the idea of a frog moving furniture into an apple house; the polite interactions with other animals that make for a pleasantly repetitive read-aloud; and of course, the happy ending. (Ages 3 to 6) --Karin Snelson [via]