Book Review: The Secret of the Stone Frog

The Secret of the Stone Frog by David Nytra. September 2012. 9781935179184. Gr. 3-6.

Last year, my local public library held a week of programs related to Alice in Wonderland.  I brought my daughter to see an Alice in Wonderland performance by a local theater group at a special storytime that also included a tea party with cookie decorating.  She loved it!  Later I attended a lecture by a local professor on the story behind Lewis Carroll’s classic novel and its various published versions over the years.  I was absolutely fascinated by it all—so much so that I collected everything Alice related I could find in a Hot Topics list for Mackin’s web site in January.  You know, for all those people equally obsessed with Wonderland. 😉

What does all of that have to do with The Secret of the Stone Frog?

Stone Frog was sitting on my desk in a stack of graphic novels I kept meaning to read. When I read the reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus, both of which compared this graphic novel to Alice in Wonderland, I pulled it out of the stack right away.

The story begins as two siblings awake in their beds in a strange forest.  A stone frog, who speaks in rhyme, advises them to stay on the path to find their way home.  Of course, there is always something to lead them astray.  They meet all sorts of creatures from giant bees to odd-looking fish dressed in suits riding on a subway train.  The forest is dark and some of the people they meet are scary—though not too scary—but the two kids keep moving and finding the stone frog statues along the way to guide them when they need it.  The result is a fantastic adventure that will prime young readers for worlds like Wonderland, Never Land, Oz, and Narnia.

For those who have already discovered those worlds, Stone Frog becomes even more of a visual feast as they search for references to their favorite fantasy stories.  In addition to the literary references, themes of discovering one’s ability and independence provide a rich point of discussion that teachers and librarians will appreciate.

This is a journey well worth taking.


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