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Review: The Secret of the Stone Frog

Those readers familiar with Toon Books’ comics for emerging readers will be pleasantly surprised by their latest release.  Geared to a slightly older and literary audience, The Secret of the Stone Frog is a masterpiece.

The Secret of the Stone Frog
By David Nytra
Grades 3 & up
Toon Books, ISBN 9781935179184, $14.95 hc
©September 2012, 80 pp.

Alan and Leah wake up in middle of an enchanted forest. They are lost and seek help from a stone frog to find their way home. The stone frog tells them to take the path behind him but warns the children not to go off the path.  Readers won’t be surprised that the children do veer off the path, and they encounter giant bees that steal your words, giant rabbits, and other not-so-friendly creatures as they make their way home.

The story borrows heavily from many classics (like Alice in Wonderland), though it’s a mish-mash of so many works, its originality isn’t in question.  Young readers who aren’t well versed in the classics probably won’t notice it.  It’s the adult readers who will have a strangely familiar feeling as they read the book.

What makes this title work and what makes this title unique is the stunning artwork.  Simple yet detailed line drawings are used throughout the book.  The artwork adds the perfect feel for the overall mood of the book.  The pencil and ink are right on the mark, giving the forest an ominous yet curious feel.

Teachers can use this comic to demonstrate how current fiction borrows from the classic – which hits on the common core standards:   RL.8.9. Analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events, or character types from myths, traditional stories, or religious works such as the Bible, including describing how the material is rendered new.

Parents (and yes teachers) can use this title to encourage students to read for the sake of reading … because Nytra delivers a wonderful adventure.

This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Toon Books.

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 3 and regularly reviews for SLJ, LMC. In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

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