Written and Illustrated by David Wiesner
Clarion Books, 1991
Awards: Caldecott Medal (1992)
Tuesday evening, around eight.
Previously Reviewed Books from this Author: Art & Max
On the first page, we see some frogs on lily pads and one of them rises up out of the water, much to his amazement. He is soon followed by all the other frogs and we follow them on their evening adventure, as they fly through town. They have run-ins with birds and laundry on a clothesline. They fly through the house of a sleeping woman (and change the channel on her TV). They are chased by a dog and they chase him back. When the sun comes up, the magic ends and they are dumped in a field. They hop their way back to the pond, leaving the police mystified at the sudden appearance of lily pads all over the streets. The book ends with a couple of pictures from the following Tuesday night, where we see a number of pigs rising into the air.
Author/illustrator David Wiesner is the master of telling amazing stories with almost no words. This is the book that won him the first of his three Caldecott Medals and it is easy to see how he has become one of only two artists to have won the Medal three times. The artwork in this book, done in watercolor, is stunning in its presentation and detail. Many pages feature full-page illustrations, but some drawings are presented in panels, showing the progression of time or zooming in on a particular aspect that Mr. Wiesner wants us to examine more closely. Other pages feature these panels over full page illustration backgrounds, showing us both the big picture and the small individual moments happening within it. And, of course, since there are no words (other than to mark the times that certain things happened), the reader can interpret the images however they like to create the story they want.
The story behind this book is pretty interesting, too. Mr. Wiesner was asked to create cover artwork for the March 1989 Cricket magazine, which they said would have stories about St. Patrick’s Day and frogs. He drew a few frogs on lily pads, flying through the air and that became the cover. But he found that he really liked these frogs and wanted to know what happened before and after the cover picture. That interest was the catalyst that brought this book into being. It’s my hope that he keeps finding new inspirations, because his books are always wonderful.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that amazing things happen all the time, even when we don’t see them.