Hopper, Skipper and Leaper, the superheroes in Kung-Fu Frogs From the Planet Intellectica, are 6-foot alien frogs fighting for truth and wisdom across the universe using their extra-sensory abilities, including telekinesis and telepathy. Lest anyone (or more likely, everyone) draw comparisons between these frogs and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, note these differences: these frogs are amphibian friends who practice kung fu; the turtles practice ninjutsu. These frogs are ages 19, 20 and 21, not all teenagers. In addition, as the author repeatedly mentions, Kung-Fu Frogs are not mutants.
The futuristic story involves the frogs interrupting martial arts practice to pursue “Intergalactic Terroristic Insects [sic] Warriors” who have stolen the Deadly Slime Virus, which destroys pure water.
The story is accompanied by seven pages of additional material explaining author Alex Holt’s concept and purpose. Holt’s stated intentions are to introduce positive learning experiences, teach martial arts benefits, inspire “urban kids” to apply martial arts precepts at home and school, and combat the “childhood epidemic of obesity.” One of many typographical errors refers to the “Deadly Slim Virus,” (inadvertently addressing the author’s interest in childhood obesity!).
Additional problems in content and design distract from the storytelling, including: inconsistencies in reading levels, line spacing and art placement, overuse of adverbs and adjectives, and repetition of words, ideas and artwork. No credit is given for the illustrations, which simplistically depict the frogs in repetitive images.
A “Kung-Fu Frogs” trademark at the top of every page and adult-oriented information in the introduction about test scores and life-threatening diseases give this children’s book an unfriendly feeling, though the subject might appeal to middle school kids with a strong interest in environmental issues. Assistance from a professional editor and illustrator/designer would significantly improve the book’s quality.
Also available as an ebook.