In a tall stack of beautiful books, the bright rainbow and femme frogs of Freeda the Frog and The Two Mommas Next Door snagged the five year old eyes of this review team’s book chooser. The brightly rendered tadpoles of the froggy community begin the story by making a new friend at tadpole school. Jessica, the new tadpole, invites her new classmates over to her house, where they enjoy treats like dragonfly lollipops and mosquito macaroons.
As different from humans as their taste in snacks might be, these tadpoles are still thrown for a loop when Jessica’s second parent comes home and is not a male frog, but rather a second female amphibian. “That’s so weird!” One of the tadpoles blurts, but Jessica doesn’t mind explaining that she has two parents, just like all the other tadpoles, they just happen to both be moms. Later, over a frog family dinner, Freeda the Frog and her husband Samson patiently explain to their froglings that, “Love is love. No two families look alike.” The skeptical tadpole warms to the idea and in the end the family invites Jessica and her two moms over for a dinner party where they get answers to things like, “Who does it [the baking] in your family if there’s no dad?”
NEW BLUE FAMILY is Prequel to FREEDA THE FROG
As soon as our review team closed the colorful cover, Freeda the Frog and her New Blue Family called our book chooser to continue their story. This tale is a prequel to Momma’s Next Door and predates Samson and Freeda’s marriage. Freeda and her tadpoles are adjusting to a recent divorce. It’s not easy, but the froglings still spend time with their mom and dad, just separately. Eventually, Freeda introduces a new friend to her spawn. Samson isn’t green, like Freeda’s family. He’s blue. When the little green tadpoles discuss this among themselves, one tells the other that “It doesn’t matter what color your skin is or what you look like on the outside, we’re all just frogs on the inside.” The tadpoles like Samson and his son Jack a lot, but they worry they’ll hurt their dad’s feelings if they show it. In the end their dad reassures them he’s glad they’re happy with their new step-family and all is well in the pond.
FREEDA THE FROG encourages conversations
These books may appeal to some parents of young children who might be intimidated to tackle questions their children have about people who live differently from them. The books do demonstrate that there’s nothing wrong with being curious about the ways that other people live. They show that there are ways to discuss differences without prejudice and encouraging those conversations when they come up is an opportunity to reinforce tolerance and equality. However, in the opinion of this reviewer, the colorful frogs and emphasis on message over story was both a bit too much and not enough. A story about a mixed race human family or human lesbian moms is probably not too edgy for young children to absorb, even without the device of normalizing diverse families by projecting our biases onto frogs. The peak age interest for this book is probably 2-5.
For more information or to purchase these titles visit the Freeda The Frog website.
Images courtesy of FREEDA THE FROG.
About the Author: Nell Voss and Sylvia Holstein
Why have we ceded so much of our lives and our space to the automobile?
Nell Voss can think of many better uses for urban space. She spends most of her free time imagining cities with forests instead of traffic corridors and vegetable gardens instead of parking lots. She’s also spent a large part of the last fifteen years writing (plays, screenplays, novels and reviews), or directing (plays, films, her child’s schedule). She lives in Chicago where she loves to watch plays, read novels, grow food and spend as much of the summer at the beach as she possibly can.