This book, along with another by author Arnold Lobel "Frog and Toad Together," have become favorites of my daughter (just turned 3) and me. The book is written around two main characters, Frog and Toad, and their adventures together, and is also part of the "I Can Read" series of books. Below are main points based on hours of reading with daddy's girl:
* The tales are charming and relationship-based, so the child is exposed to issues of friendship through storytelling in a subtle way. The particulars of the story are thoughtfully presented and often humorous. That is not to say that this is exclusively a teaching tool; some tales lean more toward relationship issues, while others are simply entertaining, but all of them revolve around the connection between friends. I read to my daughter daily and often, and at this stage this book is just right with regard to length, complexity, and situations that are bound to tickle her brain.
* The illustrations are simple but attractive and follow events in the story. This is one of the first books I've read to my daughter that is weighted more toward the printed word than the illustrations. This also makes it vastly more interesting for this particular daddy, who may have been growing tired of simpler fare.
* This is the first book my daughter has gotten into that has independent chapters. Each chapter is sized just about right, about twelve pages or so, and is perfect for keeping my daughter's interest. It also makes for a nice bridge to 'bigger' books and allows me to point out that a longer story can be made up of more individual events and the imagery produced by the spoken word can begin to overtake printed illustrations.
* This particular book is a Caldecott Honor Book. I tend to seek out books that are unique, challenging, and rewarding to read, and it is nice to know that it also has been recognized by a respected organization.
The bottom line is this: out of the universe of children's books, this is one - at least from this daddy's perspective - that I don't mind reading over and over for days on end and which my daughter loves and asks for by name. For me, this also hits a sweet spot between fantasy and reality, values and entertainment, and challenging material that my daughter enjoys digesting. As with any media, toy, or developmental tool my child is exposed to, I am very choosy - as I am certain any parent is. It also comes down to personal preference, one's particular values, developmental stage, etc. For me, however, this book hit the mark at the right time and has helped transition from simpler tales full of pictures to more complex stuff.