Friday, March 28, 2014

Days with Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel (1979)

My love for Frog and Toad knows no bounds, but strangely I've never read all the books - or if I have, it's been so long ago I no longer remember them.  Frog and Toad Are Friends always sticks out in my mind because I owned a book and record as a kid; I would love to know what happened to it, and if I can find it on audio somewhere (or maybe even delightfully on record).

I'm always Toad, although when I read this aloud, I give Frog my voice.

Like Frog and Toad are Friends, Days with Frog and Toad consists of five stories.  And, as usual, each one is a little gem, with a kernel of wisdom tucked in it for good measure.


"Tomorrow."  Toad's house is a disaster, but the lazy bitch wants to stay in bed all day long.  Frog is naggy in this story, and keeps pointing out shit Toad needs to do.  Toad keeps saying "tomorrow" like he's Scarlett O'Hara or something.  There is a clever punchline to this one.

"The Kite" I read aloud in a storytime I was covering for today.  I love this story.  It's fantastic.  Who hasn't tried to fly a kite and ended up fucking it up beyond all hope?  Or letting it go?  The robins in here are bully bitches, but it's in their face at the end.  Ha ha.

"Shivers."  I think this is the weakest story of the five, but still cute.  I love that Frog makes them both a "fresh pot of tea."  It's crap like this that made me gay. I also love the imagery at the end.  After hearing a scary story, by the end "they were having the shivers.  It was a good, warm feeling."  Who doesn't like to be scared?

"The Hat" is a birthday story.  Frog gives Toad a hat that doesn't fit right, and when Frog offers to take it back, Toad is too polite and says he "LOVES IT" just the way it is, even though it looks like shit on him.  We all have been given clothes like THAT for various holidays and birthdays.  Frog proves his love for Toad at the end (although if he REALLY loved him, he would have bought a fucking hat that fit).  

"Alone" is the most psychologically interesting of the stories;  I think "Frog" in this story probably stands in for Arnold Lobel himself, and "Toad" is the world.  Frog leaves a Greta Garbo-esque note that says "Dear Toad, I am not at home.  I went out.  I want to be alone."  What drama.  Toad immediately assumes the worst, and goes to great trouble to find out what's wrong with Frog, thinking (like the self absorbed bastardo that he is) that he must have done something to hurt his friend.  All Frog wanted to do was go be by himself and think "about how fine everything is" which sounds perfectly delightful and made me wish I was a bit more like Frog and bit less like Toad.  

Frog is generally the calm words of wisdom and voice of reason to Toad's hysterics, grumpy-old-man-ness, bad moods, suspicious, and self deprecation.  Frog is essentially Toad's ego, navigating between Toad's id and superego.  Freud would have had a hey-day with Toad.

There are three Toads of literature that I can think of off the top of my head.  Lobel's Toad.  Graham's Mr. Toad. And Thornton Burgess's Old Mr. Toad.  They all are clearly related.



Days with Frog and Toad (Frog and Toad, #4)Days with Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Frog and Toad stories are always brilliant little gems, and these are no exception.  "The Kite" is the best and most humorous story to read aloud (those Robins in the story are Frieda, Patty and Violet from Peanuts).  "Alone" is the most poignant.  As with all the stories, Frog is generally the calm words of wisdom and voice of reason to Toad's hysterics, grumpy-old-man-ness, bad moods, suspicious, and self deprecation.  Frog is essentially Toad's ego, navigating between Toad's id and superego.  Freud would have had a hey-day with Toad.

Really, every child should own at least one, if not all the Frog and Toad books.  Are there any better beginning readers?  Maybe Mo Willems.  Maybe.




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