I’ve already ranted about the lack of contextual information in newish children’s books that would, I think help make them more understandable… and therefore, in my opinion, a lot more enjoyable and easier to relate to.
Here, an observation on where a book contradicts — gratuitously, in my opinion — the real world, in a way that even a five-year-old might spot and find confusing.
I’m a volunteer literacy tutor, through a greater-Boston-area organization. I’ve been doing this, once a week (during the school year) for five of more years, and tend to work with third graders. Today, one of the books was one of Arnold Lobel’s FROG AND TOAD books, which each contain five short tales.
Today, as we were about to start, my tutee and I found ourselves asking what was the difference between a frog and a toad. I confess I didn’t know, so we looked it up.
In the illustrations for this FROG AND TOAD book, both Frog and Toad look like frogs; even ignoring the anthropomorphia, they’ve got the same eye shapes.
They’re both frogs. It took about a minute (Googling “toad versus frog” to determine this.
Now, maybe Toad is simply a frog named Toad. Or possibly, shades of Tock the watchdog in Norman Juster’s THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH, Toad’s parents were expecting a toad.
For any kid who can tell the difference between a frog and a toad, this cognitive dissonance might be confusing, even distressing. And it’s unnecessary.
I’m happy to overlook, even waive that Frog seems to often be farther away from water than he ought to be.
I conceded that “Frog” and “Toad” are more direct (and gender-neutral) than, say, “Frog One” and “Frog Two,” or “Joe Frog” and “Bill Frog.”
But unless there’s some explanation in one of the other stories why Toad looks to be a frog, I think Toad should look like a toad.