Tag Archives: dialogue in picture books
i don’t want to be a frog: on dialogue
There’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.
(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.
KID FROG: CHILDLIKE VOICE
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…)
DAD FROG: ADULT-LIKE VOICE
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.
WOLF: OUTSIDER’S VOICE
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!