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City Dog, Country Frog Hardcover – June 8, 2010
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2010: Over the past decade, Mo Willems and Jon J. Muth have each created some of the most memorable animal stories for young readers. Working collaboratively for the first time, these award-winning authors have produced a picture book tale that is as fresh and timeless as the genre itself. City Dog, Country Mouse brings the joy of unexpected friendship and the beauty of the seasons into focus. The two seemingly incompatible animals--a free-range frog and a curious urban dog--teach young readers of the endless possibilities that unfold when we share the best of ourselves with each other. --Lauren Nemroff
From School Library Journal
Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 2—Spare, poignant, and ultimately upbeat, this tale depicts the natural cycle of friendship from an enthusiastic first encounter to contented companionship to the heartbreak of loss and eventual emotional renewal. Presented with a comfortingly consistent narrative structure, the events are set against the backdrop of the changing seasons, reassuring readers that winter will turn again to spring, sadness to joy. In "spring," City Dog runs free in the countryside for the first time ever and discovers an unfamiliar creature perched on a rock. Asked, "What are you doing?" Country Frog smiles and replies, "Waiting for a friend…but you'll do." The two play Country Frog games ("jumping and splashing and croaking") and when reunited in "summer," they enjoy City Dog pastimes ("sniffing and fetching and barking"). In "fall," Country Frog is tired, so the friends spend their time remembering. When City Dog arrives again in "winter," Country Frog is nowhere to be found (a wordless spread shows the pooch sitting on the rock, looking small and forlorn against a stark winterscape). In "spring again," a sad-looking City Dog befriends another critter with a familiar line, and then beams "a froggy smile" (shown in close-up, this warmly illustrated grin guarantees that Country Frog will not be forgotten). Making expert use of color and texture, Muth's expressive paintings clearly convey the tale's emotional nuances. This understated picture book allows plenty of room for young readers to interpret the animals' feelings for themselves and perhaps discuss their own emotions.—Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Top customer reviews
Wholeheartedly recommended. One of finest meditations on life, aging, and death I have ever encountered.
The story itself -- about the friendship between two unlikely individuals -- is simple, even sparse at times. A few pages don't have any words at all, some only have one. But it's jam-packed with all sorts of good stuff (the nature of friendship, loss, grief, acceptance, the passage of the seasons and time, the overarching cycle of life) and is a great way to initiate deeper discussions between parents and children. When I first read this to my then four-year old, she was particularly curious about what happened to frog -- where did he go? why didn't he come back? -- and we explored the possibilities. The next time we read it, we talked about how the scene changed with the seasons. The book was such a hit in our home that we eventually donated a new copy to our preschool where it has become a much cherished story.
The illustrations are pure Muth -- realistic yet whimsical. Dog and frog are incredibly expressive and the natural settings around them are a lovely compliment to the story.
For parents or teachers who want to introduce some deeper topics to young children (without freaking them out too much), give this book a try.
Does my 3 year old ask what happened to frog? Yes, of course. What do I tell her? Well, for now, he's moved (like a friend at school did). In the future, we could use the storyline to help cope with a death. We also use the book to learn about seasons, as well as talking about what we can teach our friends and what we can learn from our friends.
Warning - I get choked up when I read this book! It's so meaningful in a variety of ways!
I highly recommend this book for your own child or as a gift.
The watercolors are lovely and emotionally evocative, and the text is spare but both lyrical and moving. It gently addresses the idea of loss without emphasizing sadness, and it presents a model of resilience and happy remembrance. I was initially worried that my daughter would be distressed that the frog disappears, but instead she finds the dog's "froggy smile" hilarious, and seems content with the ending, in which the dog befriends a chipmunk.
So I came to Amazon and bought a copy - nominally for my kids, but in truth, more for myself. Absolutely love this book. Deep in meaning and very thoughtful, with incredible art.