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Monday, January 24, 2011

I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat, written and illustrated by Carlyn Beccia. Houghton, T Allen. 2010. $22.50 ages 8 and up

"The medieval recipe for a cough
was to make a soup out of nine frogs
but not tell the diner what was in it.
Although it would not have cured
a cough, the extra protein would
have given sick people a nutritional
boost...if they could stand to swallow
a frog or two."

We all have a voice in our heads that offers up a remedy, or two, for what ails us. Wear a hat and warm shoes and you won't catch pneumonia.....what? I always argued with my Mom about that one. How do my feet connect to my lungs, I would ask. Never mind that, just get a hat on your head and stop wearing sandals when it's cold, she would answer. I got pneumonia, even when I was wearing winter boots and a toque. Bah!

This book is full of fun, and learning. There are instructions for its use, prior to reading the first set of cures for a cough, and a disclaimer: "Side effects from reading this book may vary. Patients may experience rapid brain growth."

Read it carefully and you will have a whole new conversation at your next dinner party! Ewwww!

To cure a cough, the author suggests caterpillar fungus, frog soup, or cherry bark. Before moving forward, the reader is encouraged to guess what the right answer might be. The next three pages, illustrated with clever, historically accurate, digital mixed media art offer answers for that particular ailment. Then, we move on to colds, sore throats, wounds (for this, there are nine suggestions and six are right), stomachaches, fevers, headaches and finally, every sickness.

The writing style is inviting and informative, and the art is great fun! The cures come from every period in world history...from Neanderthals to present time. Some you may have heard about, and they still make you want to run from their truth. I learned why I rarely suffered from stomachaches as a child....I ate dirt! Eating medicinal dirt has been encouraged for hundreds of years. Why? Some has clay in it, and the magnesium helps settle the stomach.

Frog soup, not likely; but, you could entice me with chicken soup to help with a cold. Dressing a wound with honey would be OK, but spider webs? Both are very certainly holds more appeal. And oh, those maggots! Or a dead man's skull? There is much to contemplate in our quest to find 'a cure'. And, a lot to discuss. Bring on the dinner guests!

And if this isn't enticing enough....I hope that, when you have finished reading this wonderful book, you will get right down to your bookstore or the library to find two other books by Carlyn Beccia. Their titles are Who Put the B in the Ballyhoo (Houghton, 2007) and The Raucous Royals (Houghton, 2008).

Don't you just love it when one book leads to another...and then another?

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