The Frog Mystery follows a young frog named Hippity as he encounters the wide world and learns how plants grow.
Hippity lives in a pond on a small farm, where he’s less interested in catching flies with his friends and more interested in watching the farmer go about his business. The farmer plants seeds, erects a scarecrow and tends his growing plants. Hippity pays special attention to one particular plant, convinced that it’s a new water lily for the pond. As it turns out, Hippity’s beloved plant is a pumpkin. The farmer picks it after many months and carves a jack-o’-lantern. He tells Hippity that the pumpkin is big and beautiful because of all the love Hippity invested in its development.
The Frog Mystery fits a lot of text onto each page, so the illustrations seldom keep pace with the plot. The abundance of words also accentuates The Frog Mystery’s primary weakness: its sluggish pace. Even very young readers will have some idea of the steps of a plant’s life cycle — sprouting, flowering and the ripening of fruit — and the length of Hippity’s descriptions combine unfavorably with the plot’s lack of suspense. Also, Hippity lingers near the pumpkin but doesn’t have enough agency to move it, water it or otherwise protect it; his curiosity is endearing, but his presence is ultimately immaterial.
The text’s straightforward diction isn’t pretentious, but early readers may struggle to get through the narrative without help. In the end, this book’s average story, its slow pace and the lackluster drawings don’t encourage a second read.
Also available as an ebook.