Friendship against all odds is a much-explored theme in children’s books, as is the device of using animals to deliver a message and moral to youngsters. Trudi Carter utilizes these elements and – along with her illustrator, Lowell Hildebrandt – adds some nice touches in the picture book, Can Dragons and Frogs Be Friends?
Carter ups the ante in the against-all-odds department by making the animals in question predator (fire-breathing dragons) and prey (frogs). Her story is told in the form of letters between Squirrel and his buddy Beach Bird, who has migrated south.
As the book opens, Squirrel informs Beach Bird of some bad news: “It’s still scary in Great Forest! The dragons keep chasing the frogs to eat them…The dragons and frogs need to be friends…” In response to such missives, Bird repeatedly warns Squirrel: “Never! Dragons and frogs will never be friends!…The dragons eat frogs whenever they can. They will never, ever be friends!” Bird adds to the anxiety by reporting that he has learned that “Dragon Mama is due to lay an egg any day now…A baby dragon will eat frogs and start fires, too!”
Fortunately, things begin to shift when the mother dragon takes a break from her nest and the father dragon places the egg on a height from which it is blown into the frog pond. It quickly becomes clear that the dragon needs a friend to help him retrieve the egg. And what if that friend is none other than one brave frog? Can friendship triumph here? And if so, what will the dragons dine on instead of frogs?
Through the chatty and engaging letters, Carter answers these questions quite nicely, delivering a delightful read-aloud tale. Despite its somewhat contrived nature, the ending is bound to please a young audience.
Note: As a fun bonus, the volume also contains 10 pages of the book’s lively illustrations in outline-only form for children to enjoy coloring.
Also available as an ebook.