Whether you’re born a boy, a girl, or maybe even a frog, the question “why am I me?” almost always comes up. I can’t even count how many times I’ve stared longingly into my dog’s eyes (He has one blue and one brown eye, by the way) and seriously asked him, “Ozzie, why can’t I just be you?” It’s completely normal for anyone, especially little kids, to have the desire to be something different—I mean, pretend play exists for that exact reason. But, while it’s fun to wish we were cats, or horses, or Disney Princesses, we really want our kids to appreciate and accept themselves and all of their unique quirks and qualities.
Author Dev Petty and illustrator Mike Boldt have flawlessly pulled this off with their children’s book, I Don’t Want to Be a Frog, published by Random House Children’s Books. The story, for kids ages 3 to 7, follows a young frog going through somewhat of a minor—but very real—identity crisis. While the main character is hilariously feisty and equally sassy, his father’s answers to his banter and wild proclamations are just as—if not more—funny. While the text is all dialogue, the accompanying illustrations are a real win, too. There are beautiful colors, animals bouncing off the pages, and facial expressions that couldn’t be more spot on from the father’s large eye rolls to the son’s gaping mouth that never closes because he never stops asking questions.
In the story, the young frog thinks that being a cat, a rabbit, a pig, and even an owl would be way better than being a frog. He claims frogs are too wet, too slimy, and eat too many bugs—who would want to be a frog? It’s not until the end of the story when he meets a hungry wolf that he realizes those traits actually aren’t all that bad. The wolf scares the little frog straight by telling him that being a cat, a rabbit, a pig, or an owl isn’t always so great, specifically because all of those animals are his favorites to eat. The frog is instantly terrified, but relieved to find out that the one thing the wolf would never eat is a frog (Phew!).
The story ends with the father and son hand-in-hand waving goodbye to the wolf. The frog says, “I guess you can’t fight nature. We are what we are,” which is a fantastic revelation for the stubborn little guy. I think this is a great read for both parents and kids, as they will both be able to relate to this book and bond over it. While the text is bold and engaging, the illustrations are beautiful and great for kids who are just following along in the book as a parent, grandparent, or older sibling reads aloud.