The Children’s Book Review | May 12, 2016
Written By Mo Willems
Illustrated by Jon J. Muth
Age Range: 3-7
Hardback: 64 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children (2010)
What to expect: Dogs, Frogs, Emotions, Seasons, Friendship, Fun, Sharing, New Friends, Loss
Mo Willems, a prolific children’s author, gives his readers a surprising change with this story. City Dog, Country Frog is a definite departure from Willems’ wildly popular and adorably silly Pigeon and Elephant and Piggie books, but it is a sweet, sensitive departure for kids and parents alike.
City Dog comes to the country on a beautiful spring day and he meets Country Frog. Country Frog tells City Dog that he is “waiting for a friend, but you’ll do.” So begins the unlikely friendship between a young, energetic dog and an older, slower frog. The dog teaches the frog how to play “city dog games” during their first spring romp. The friends meet again in the summer to play “country frog games.” By the time fall arrives, Country Frog is clearly tired and aging so the two friends play “remembering games” and sleep close together. City Dog returns to the country in winter and looks for his friend but the frog is not perched on his usual rock. City Dog spends the day alone in quiet reflection. Spring comes and now, it is City Dog sitting on a rock, quietly waiting. Country Chipmunk approaches City Dog and a new friendship begins.
With only a few words per page, Willems teaches children about seasons, friendship, compromise, aging, and loss. The watercolor illustrations are not mere accompaniments; they infuse the story with a lovely pathos that grows as the seasons progress. (The picture of City Dog waiting for Country Frog in winter is achingly beautiful.)
City Dog, Country Frog is a seemingly simple book with a powerful message. Losing a friend is a difficult part of life, but every friendship offers experiences and memories that shape us. The brilliance of the story is its simplicity; no long explanations are needed to explain the frog’s absence. A younger child may think the frog went to another rock. An older child may quickly understand that the frog has passed away. Whatever the level of the child’s understanding, City Dog, Country Frog introduces the concept of loss with perfect grace.
Add this book to your collection: City Dog, Country Frog
About Mo Willems
Mo Willems knows a Good Idea when he sees one. A three-time Caldecott Honor winner (for Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Knuffle Bunny, and Knuffle Bunny Too), he also won two Geisel Medals and two Geisel Honors for his Elephant and Piggie books. His books are perennial New York Times bestsellers, including Knuffle Bunny Free, Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator!, and the Cat the Cat series. Before he turned to making picture books, Mo was a writer and animator on Sesame Street, where he won six Emmys. Mo lives with his family in Massachusetts.
About Jon J. Muth
JON J MUTH has written and illustrated many acclaimed picture books including his Caldecott Honor title, “Zen Shorts”, which “Kirkus” proclaimed, As perfect a picture as can be; and “The Three Questions”, which the “New York Times Book Review” called quietly life-changing. His book “Zen Ties” was a “New York Times” bestseller. He lives in New York State with his wife and four children.
City Dog, Country Frog, by Mo Willems and Jon. J. Muth, was reviewed by Kelley Smith. Discover more books like City Dog, Country Frog by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with Adventure, Dogs, Friendship, Hope, Loss of a Pet, and Nature.