This rhyming children’s book features “Neville the Froad – half-frog, half-toad”: a creature who works hard to fulfill his wish to soar like a bird.
Neville feels like he doesn’t fit in. Wishing he could fly, he lives in a tree to be more birdlike. Meanwhile, his fellow toads and frogs think he’s “a bore” and shun him.
One day, Neville decides to go for a swim. One place after another, obstacles prevent him from diving in. Finally, he finds a deep lake and a diving point that allows him to fly through “the air like the lark and sparrow.” He hears the birds singing for him, celebrating his success in finding his joy. The ending underscores the story’s message: “So next time you hear a bird in song,/ and maybe you feel you don’t belong. [sic]/ remember the Froad who lived in a tree,/ and always try hard to be all you can be.”
This a touching story that shows Neville’s persistence in finding an activity that suits his preferences and limitations. The narrative’s rhythm is mostly consistent and natural-sounding, and several of the rhymes are inspired, such as: “Early one morning,/ the forest was snoring” (although others are more pedestrian).
There are a few unanswered questions: It’s unclear whether the frogs and toads find Neville boring for his desire to fly or for other reasons; it’s also unclear, particularly at the beginning, whether he’s friends with the birds, or if they find him similarly odd.
These are mainly quibbles. Any failings are more than compensated by the book’s charming illustrations. The delicate, elegant, colored pencil drawings bring the story to life; the bird’s puff tails and the exaggerated shape of Neville’s spindly legs and bulbous body make them captivating enough to frame all on their own.
A compelling tale of someone who wishes for a different life—and finds it—Neville the Froad is bound to spark conversation and empathy from its readers.
Also available as an ebook.