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Hip-Pocket Papa Hardcover – February 1, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 4—In Australia's temperate rainforest, a miniature drama plays out among the leaves on the forest floor. Two hip-pocket frogs, less than an inch long, guard their eggs until tiny tadpoles emerge and wriggle up the male's hind legs into hidden pockets. Once the eggs hatch, the female's work is done, but for the next 30 days, the male must hunt for food and keep his skin wet while eluding predators. By the time the froglets emerge from his pockets, he has reached a creek bank where they can find the moisture they need for their continued survival. An animal glossary includes information about the currawong, antechinus, quoll, and other creatures the frog encounters. Marks's vibrant watercolors offer close-up views of the frog and his surroundings, revealing interconnections that cannot be seen easily by much larger humans. A photo of the hip-pocket frog appears in Markle's Slippery, Slimy Baby Frogs (Walker, 2006). Mark W. Moffett's Face to Face with Frogs (National Geographic) and Nic Bishop Frogs (Scholastic, both 2008) both use dramatic photos to provide a more wide-ranging introduction to these fascinating amphibians. While libraries will want to make sure those titles are in their collections before adding this one, Markle's new book offers a unique introduction to a specific species.—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Set in an Australian temperate rain forest, this picture book opens with a pair of tiny hip-pocket frogs guarding their eggs from predators while waiting for them to hatch. Finally, a dozen teeny tadpoles emerge and slowly climb into their father’s hidden hip pockets. There they develop and grow for several weeks, while their father struggles to find food and avoid predatory animals such as the dusky antechinus (a marsupial) and the currawong (a bird). Shown on the book’s dust jacket in actual size (less than an inch), the frog looks larger in the illustrations but remains a vulnerable, sympathetic figure to follow through the pages. Markle writes with clarity and precision, while Marks’ evocative watercolor, ink, and pencil artwork brings the frog’s world to life. Well suited to classroom units on rain forests, food chains, or frogs, this lovely picture book offers close-up views of an intriguing little animal living in a particular ecosystem. Grades K-3. --Carolyn Phelan
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Top Customer Reviews
The hero of our story is .... a hip pocket frog? I haven't ever personally heard of these particular devils - although that's hardly surprising considering how slim my knowledge base is on frogs and toads. For the frog clueless like me, these are very small (no bigger than your thumbnail) dark brown frogs who dwell in Australia. These frogs earned their name by the unique way the males help develop their young. The tadpoles hatch from eggs like any other number of frogs. However, these frogs then slide into skin pockets along the sides of their father's body. Hip pocket papa carries his young tucked into his side pouches until they are fully developed frogs! That odd little quirk makes them pretty darn interesting, I think.
Our story opens with a pair of hip pocket frogs - expectant parents who guarding their cache of eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the father steps up to perform his task of securing his brood in his hidden hip pockets. When he is not hunting for food, this clever frog buries himself in leaves to hide from predators. At the same time, he is careful to keep his skin wet at all times, as the tadpoles need to be wet to breathe. Father frog carries his tadpoles for nearly a month before the tadpoles are ready to emerge, hopping out as fully formed frogs.
I was surprised to discover just how truly stunning the forest illustrations are in this book. You might expect frog habitats to be dull, but brilliant golds, browns and greens shine here. Some books, and this is obviously one of them, have illustrations so beautiful that my first inclination is to rip them right out and tack them up on my walls. It seems almost a shame to close the cover and hide these from view.
My only complaint, which doesn't have a thing to do with this book, is that I was a little disappointed to find that Sandra Markle doesn't have a personal website. It seemed to me that someone with her considerable artistic talent would naturally boast a neat, science-y, interactive site. But I can't complain too much that she prefers to spend her time writing phenomenal books like these for us to enjoy.
This book was an interesting read for all three of us as the author does an excellent job in making the story of the frogs interesting and engaging. It was fun to discover facts about the hip-pocket frogs that we were unaware of, such as the way the tadpoles conceal themselves in the hidden pockets on daddy frog's hips. The narrative-style writing makes the facts easy to absorb and accessible to children. By reading this, my 5-year-old was able to discover facts such as predators of the hip-pocket frogs, how the male frog takes care of his young, etc. It was also interesting to read about animals that were not familiar to us such as the dusky antechinus, a quoll, a currawong (a type of bird), etc. that are native to Australia's temperate rainforest.
There's an animal glossary at the back of the book that explains in some detail about these various animals. The beautiful watercolor illustrations by Alan Marks truly bring the rainforest to vivid life. We enjoyed this book and look forward to more by the author and illustrator.