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
From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2--When a family places an apple-shaped birdhouse in a tree, a green tree frog quickly moves into it. The rest of the story consists of the frog's interactions with several animals that approach his new home, including a robin, a crow, a squirrel, and a cat. The tale concludes when a female tree frog wanders by and, impressed by the shiny, red apple-house, decides to stay. None of these encounters creates any excitement, danger, or amusement for the protagonist, aside from some mild swaying of his abode. The text consists of a series of flat hello-and-good-bye exchanges between the creatures. Fortunately, the illustrations have more interest and depth than the story line. Collages of paper, leaves, feathers, and other materials were glued to cardboard, coated with gesso and acrylic, and pressed with rag paper, and the resulting prints were then colored with watercolor washes. The pictures are folksy, warm, and intricately textured. Although the plot is slight, the striking artwork may spark young readers' imaginations and inspire them to create more dramatic conversations between the tree frog and his neighbors.--Eve Ortega, Cypress Library, CA
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