CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 5 . . . . October 29, 2004
Award-winning illustrator Sean Cassidy presents the lively, colorful tale of a tree frog whose wish to be admired lands him in a jam. While Gummytoes manages to impress, amaze, astonish and dazzle two children with his froggy skills, his subsequent capture isn't the reward he had in mind. Deposited inside a terrarium, Gummytoes is startled and frightened, and he resorts to hiding from the children's stares. He engineers his own escape by sending the kids into gales of laughter, thereby distracting them while he hops away. A double message emerges from this story. A young reader will realize it's not always best to brag or be the centre of attention. As well, the determination of Gummytoes to return to his natural existence will reinforce the fact that wild creatures do not make happy pets.
Cassidy relates his energetic story with an abundance of specific sensory detail for vivid word-pictures:
Gummytoes waddled out of his old red pipe and sat in the soft breeze. He breathed in the scent of damp grass, and a deep orange sun warmed his skin...a dragonfly buzzed past.
Strong, active verbs and appealing language patterns enhance the visual effects: waddled, buzzed, trilled, scrambled, fluttered, snatched, scooped, rapped and thumped, dropped and slopped. The gaily colored illustrations are filled with motion (many spilling right across double spreads) and emotion. The various perspectives Cassidy has chosen contribute to growing reader empathy for Gummytoes. We delight to see him swoop from a high branch across two pages in his attempt to gain the attention of the children on the ground below. But there's nothing sadder than the huge close-up of a bug-eyed Gummytoes held fast in the grip of the child, or the sight of him splayed on the glass of the cage while a child's huge face peers through. We're brought down to ground level when Gummytoes gleefully escapes behind the back of the boy. This frog species' ability to match his color to his surroundings or activity gives the illustrator a chance to show Gummytoes' various moods: mostly he's green, but he turns brown inside the terrarium. The final illustration depicts a free and well-camouflaged Gummytoes mimicking the leaves on a branch. A page of tree frog facts follows the story text.
The large sized, bright illustrations and lively text will make this a popular read-aloud for young listeners.
Gillian Richardson, a former teacher-librarian and a published writer of children's fiction and nonfiction, lives in BC.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal
use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any
other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.