i don’t want to be a frog: on dialogue

i-don't-want-to-be-a-frogThere’s a brand new picture book in town (with a debut author).  I Don’t Want to Be A Frog written by Dev Petty, illustrated by Mike Boldt. And it is a funny one!


Why is it so funny? So many reasons, but the main one, I think, is because the whole book is told through dialogue. (Even the title is spoken from the main character’s mouth.)




Two characters are talking, with a surprise one at the end. And their interaction is priceless; the tone is just right.

Frog interior_lo_02


(click image(s) to enlarge)


Kid Frog and Dad Frog are having a conversation about how Kid Frog doesn’t want to be a frog. He’d like to be a cat or a rabbit (he can hop!) or an owl, but not a frog. Frogs are wet and slimy and stuff.

Here’s what’s so stellar about the talking that takes place.

Frog interior_lo_03


Kid frog’s voice is spot on. It’s fed up. It’s full of questions. It won’t take no for an answer. It’s a little bit complainy, but endearing and we like it. Plus, it’s relatable. Who hasn’t wanted to be something else entirely at least once? (And who hasn’t talked to a child who must pursue an inquiry for a very long time…)



Frog interior_lo_04


Oh, Dad frog in the giant glasses. His voice is great too. It’s exasperated. It’s logical. It’s long-suffering and willing to keep the conversation going. It’s pedagogical while understanding and compassionate. Validating. Good natured. Like, you know, a good parent.


Frog interior_lo_06


It’s slightly menacing. It’s truthful. And it’s exactly what the Dad needs to help prove his argument. I love that the wolf comes in to save the day in this way. A wolf! Sometimes, kids just won’t hear it from their parents. They need an outside source in order to believe something. Like that lima beans are okay to eat. Or that it’s okay to be a wet, slimy frog and not a cat or an owl even though owls are really cool.


And let’s not forget how Mike Boldt’s illustrations enhance the dialogue! The colored speech bubbles with long tails. Their sections and back and forth. (How they’re shaped sort of pollywoggy.)

The kid frog’s gaping mouth.

The way we further know how the Dad is saying something by the particular way he fidgets with his glasses.

And the way we hear from the third character in a speech bubble before we see him on the next page. Great opportunities for pre-page turn guessing abound!


 Thanks to Dev Petty for images!




11 Responses to i don’t want to be a frog: on dialogue

  1. This is hilarious! I’ve got to get it. Parents will love it for exactly the reasons you state. Kids will love the ridiculousness of it. And I’m thinking the manuscript was submitted in screenplay format. Don’t you?

  2. Dana Carey says:

    I love this: “Sometimes, kids just won’t hear it from their parents. They need an outside source in order to believe something.” Um, YES. I think I’ll send this post to my (18-year-old!) daughter. Heck, I’ll send the book too! Thanks for a fun and interesting post on dialogue and voice. This book seems like a lot of fun.

  3. As a frog fan, I can hardly wait to read this one. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Maria Marshall says:

    Really wonderful, thank you for posting about this new book. I have to go find it.

  5. About Dana’s comment…sigh! Frog’s mouth has a tardis-like depth! Fun!

  6. Oh, I am in love with this. Plus adding it to my study list. Thanks!

  7. My very own copy arrived the other day so now, thanks to your review, it goes to the top of the TBR list!! Thanks for sharing all your insights.

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