5 Stars The Silly Looking Thing Eva M. Sakmar-Sullivan Schiffer Publishing No. Pages: 40 Ages: 4 - 8 . . . . . . . . . . . .
From Book Jacket: “I don’t want to be your friend because I don’t like the way you look!” That’s not a very nice thought! Itsy-Bitsy Frog discovers that just because someone looks a little different than you. Doesn’t mean you can’t be friends—or at least give the friendship a chance. You just might be surprised or shocked at what you find out!
Isty-Bitsy Frog is a young frog in search of a friend. He longs to play in the pond with a new friend. After his parents give him permission to go to the pond, Itsy-Bitsy Frog happily hops to the water. There, he finds a young boy already swimming in the pond. The young boy asks Itsy-Bitsy Frog,
“Hey Frog! You want to play?”
Itsy-Bitsy looks and says,
“No way! I’m a frog and you’re a silly-looking thing.”
This happens several days in a row until Itsy-Bitsy Frog simply stops going to the pond. His parents ask him why he has been staying home. Itsy-Bitsy Frog boasts that he is a frog and only plays with other frogs. His parents are not pleased and tell Itsy-Bitsy Frog that simply being different is not a good enough reason to not be friends and play together. Itsy-Bitsy returns to the pond to apologize to the silly looking thing, but he is gone. A small, young frog is sitting on a lily pad. Itsy-Bitsy Frog calls out,
“Hey, you want to play?”
The young frog does not reply, frustrating Itsy-Bitsy Frog. He tells the young frog he is acting rude and the youngster finally replies.
“I thought you didn’t play with silly-looking things?”
I like this book. The illustrations are clean, colorful, and bright. Itsy-Bitsy Frog is full of emotions, especially when he gets angry or boastful. He has wild arms and legs flailing all over the place when he gets angry and adamant at the silly-looking thing. Ironically, this makes Itsy-Bitsy Frog looksa bit silly himself. He also looks adorable in his red striped shirt and jean shorts with suspenders. In the spread in which Itsy-Bitsy Frog explains to his parent why he has not be going to the pond, Itsy-Bitsy Frog humorously looks like a snobby debutant, stating matter-of-factly,
“I’m a frog, and I only play with frogs.”
Kids can be horrible when it comes to exclusiveness. They ostracized any child who looks or dresses differently, speaks with an accent, is handicapped, or a multitude of other subjective reasons. Most often, the reasons are senseless and based on falsehoods. The older the child, the more destructive these acts can become. It can be hurtful on the receiving end of such behavior. At its worst, the exclusion includes criticizing and discrimination.
I like the way the author/illustrator has taken an animal, which is non-threatening, and one that alters physically based on age. At its youngest, a frog is a tadpole, with a differently shaped head and body. “It is a silly-looking thing.” It then becomes a frog and looks like all the other frogs in the pond, or no longer like a “silly-looking thing.” Itsy-Bitsy Frog had no idea he was once a silly-looking tadpole, so he did not recognize a soon-to-be frog. Instead, he turns from the unknown animal, preferring someone who looks like himself.
I like that she used a frog because it can represent our own transformations from infant to child to teen and then adult. We change how we look at each stage, just like the tadpole. For example, a shy, quiet kid, who always gets beat-up—for being shy and quite, grows up to be outgoing, demonstrative, and talkative. We transform just like the silly-looking tadpole Itsy-Bitsy Frog would not play with—because he was silly looking.
After the story, there is a spread called A Frog’s Life. Using a circle, similar to if one looked through a microscope, she illustrates the life cycle of a frog as it progresses from an egg to a tadpole, and all its changes, to a frog. It is a nice science lesson that helps further explain the silly-looking thing.
Nothing in The Silly Looking Thing is preachy. It is a fun book, with fun pictures and a simple approach, even the youngest child will understand. With this mix of helpful, easy to understand story and great illustrations, The Silly Looking Thing becomes a wonderfully useful book your child or grandchild will treasure.