Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Secret of the Stone Frog

The Secret of the Stone FrogThe Secret of the Stone Frog by David Nytra
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A building comes to life
TOON Books is dedicated to bringing the world of graphic novels to a younger audience. They have produced some wonderful books including the “Benny and Penny” series by Geoffrey Hayes, “Stinky” by Eleanor Davis, “Little Mouse Gets Ready,” by Jeff Smith and “Zig and Wikki in the Cow,” by Nadja Spiegelman and Trade Loeffler. The books are beautifully produced and feature art by some of the finest illustrators working in the field of comics and graphic novels. This one, written and illustrated by newcomer David Nytra is a stunner. Nytra’s black and white art, reminiscent of Winsor McKay’s “Little Nemo” comic strip from the early 20th century is incredibly detailed and full of surprises. The story starts off and ends in a child’s bed but whether what falls in between is a dream or not is left for the reader to decide. When two young children, Leah and Alan wake up in the middle of the forest, they are told by a talking stone frog how to get home. But their mysterious guide also gives them a warning: “Stay on the path!” Anyone who is familiar with the lore of fairyland knows that strange things can happen to those who stray from the path. It’s not a spoiler to tell you that it doesn’t take long for Leah and Alan to be tempted off the path, and yes, very strange things do begin to happen. They meet giant, fuzzy bees who steal words, a trio of foppish lions, giant rabbits, and some bizarre denizens of the deep sea, who ride a subway dressed in suits and top hats. Besides the aforementioned “Little Nemo,” the book’s surreal episodes also have the feel of Lewis Carrol’s “Alice in Wonderland.” This is a book I think kids will want to read over and over again. The fantastic illustrations by themselves are enough to keep readers coming back for repeat viewings. I loved this book!

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