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Saturday, October 16, 2010

city dog, country frog, word by Mo Willems and pictures by Jon Muth. Hyperion, H B Fenn, 2010. $21.00 ages 4 and up

"City Dog and Country Frog played together.

City Dog was new to the country,
so Country Frog taught him
Country Frog games.

Country Frog's games involved
jumping and splashing and croaking."

My friend Jan MADE me buy this book. Well, not really. But, when I was visiting her store lately, she asked if I had read it and when I said I had not, she said she thought it might be her favorite picture book ever...of all time (at least, at this moment in time). That is pretty high praise and was certainly all the incentive I needed to put it on my pile. I am certainly happy that I did!

It is not like a Mo Willems book; at least, it is nothing like the books that I have in my library by said author. I love the Pigeon, the Naked Mole Rats, Knuffle Bunny and Trixie and I REALLY love Gerald and Piggie! This, I was not expecting. It is the first book where he has not done his own illustrations. If you know his work, that won't be too surprising because this one is definitely a departure from his urban, irreverant and hilarious characters.

It's spring and City Dog finds himself living in the county. While freely exploring his new digs, he comes face to face with a frog. Country Frog has been waiting for a friend and he guesses that City Dog will do. All through the spring Country Frog teaches City Dog new games. In the summer City Dog returns the favor. As summer turns to fall, City Dog races back to the rock that is Country Frog's home and finds him tired and ready only to play remembering games. When he returns in winter, he cannot find his friend anywhere. But strong feelings of friendship linger and City Dog, patient and heartbroken, awaits his friend's appearance. When spring returns with no sign of Country Frog, City Dog is sad and shares that feeling with an inquisitive chipmunk. Country Frog has taught him perhaps the best lesson of all...being a friend. With a winsome, froggy smile, City Dog moves on to new adventures.
Jon Muth's watercolor artwork gives us memorable characters in an idyllic setting whose love and admiration for each other is strong and true. I love the wagging tail, the panting tongue, the soft and gentle touches and the final froggy smile! His beautiful bold colors place us firmly in each of the seasons. How better to show the deep feelings than with the cover iluustration, which is shared above. BRAVO!

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