Guest Reviewer: Heather, UCF Elementary Education Student
Author & Illustrator: Nikolai Popov
Published 1996 by North-South Books
Summary: A frog sits peacefully in a meadow. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, he is attacked by an umbrella-wielding mouse in a confrontation that quickly turns into a full-scale war.
About the Author: Nikolai Popov is a well-known Russian visual artist and illustrator. He has won multiple gold medals and Grand Prix at international exhibitions of children’s book illustration. Popov has had personal exhibitions in many cities of the world, including Moscow, Tokyo, Rome and Venice. He is an honorary member of the Russian Academy of Arts.
Review: I found this book to be a beautiful way to describe the trials and tribulations of war without using words or realistic art depicting the violence war contributes to. It is a E-rated way to show that war is seemingly senseless and can be an endless cycle, where ultimately no one wins. I think on top of that, the artwork of watercolor and animals was really beautiful, and seemed very fairytale-like. I liked that the frog found a pretty flower and that the mouse is shown to be jealous even though he is surrounded by similar florals. I think this is a good way to show (not only a war aspect) but just a way to describe how we may not know what we have available to us because we are so focused on what others have instead. The fact that this book has no words and the story is completely implied by the images is also an important thing to note here because it can be up for debate as to what the actual goal of the story is – is it war? Or could it be selfishness, jealousy, or some could even think maybe the mouse doesn’t like frogs (micro-aggressions?). This availability for interpretation is a good way to get a multitude of ideas started without given any hints as to the authors key goals (if not getting author/book background information before reading).
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book would be supplemental in unison with history lessons revolving around a time-period of another war scenario, like WWI or WWII. It would be a good way to help students navigate how easily wars can start and how hard it is to find a real reason for violence when the outcome is unclear. This book would also be good to use when discussing the problem with bullying or isolating others, it would be a good way to give students an idea of why it is crucial to be kind and think of others because in the end, you end up asking WHY did we even do this in the first place? Students can learn about needless fighting and apply this mindset/theory to their own lives, from how they treat others, to family and school environments as well.
And the last page! Looking at it I get that “throat swelling” feeling right before you cry. Its a painful image. The flowers are gone, the animals are sad, everything is ruined – the worst part is, no one got to enjoy what an entire field had to offer.
- On page 4, the mouse looks around after coming up from the ground, what do you think he is looking at?
- On page 5, we see the mouse looking at the frog – what is he thinking?
- On page 7, the frog looks upset, and on the next page, more frogs come into the picture – do you think the frog called for them? What if the frogs didn’t come?
- What kind of weapons are the animals using? Why do you think the illustrator chose these items?
- In the end, how do the frog and mouse appear to be feeling?
Read This If You Love: Concepts of peace, unity, discussing the issues with our world and problems with humanity
Thank you, Heather, for your review!