Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Green, Greener, Greenest

Are you wearing green today?

I wore a green shirt to work today. Gem wore a tie emblazoned with shamrocks. Neither of us has any ancestral connections with Ireland, of which we’re aware, anyway. However, when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day, we’re delighted to celebrate with the Irish.  Many of the children taking part in the Spring break activities at my book store were also clad in a bit o’ green.
Perhaps the greenest of green children’s books are the “Frog and Toad” series, written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel. Frog And Toad Are Friends (1970), Frog And Toad Together (1972), Frog And Toad All Year (1976).  These ‘I Can Read’ early readers are winners of both the Newbery for distinguished writing and the Caldecott for excellence in illustration. They are classic works of children’s literature. Filled with wisdom and laughter, friendship and silliness, these stories possess a gentle magic. Frog and Toad fly kites, take long walks, ride bicycles, read to each other, swim and cook, and clean Toad’s very messy house. They dream and imagine, are brave and hopeful, and goad and tease each other with an old-fashioned courtesy that is nonetheless still amusing today.

And, they’re green. Well, of course, you may be thinking. After all, frogs and toads, by their very nature, are green. But the illustrations in these books take that greenness to another level; everything in them is tinted, shaded, coloured and imbued with every hue of green imaginable. This includes the walls of their houses, their furniture, their clothes; the food they eat, the very air they breathe on the pages. Green, greener, greenest. How this is achieved is a remarkable feat of artistry.

Apparently, these characters were inspired by boyhood summer holidays when Arnold Lobel spent much of his time observing frogs and toads in a nearby pond. He found the creatures beautiful, interesting and comical, and years later they would form the basis for his lovely tales.

“You can keep your willpower, Frog. I am going home to bake a cake.”
―  Arnold Lobel, Frog and Toad Together 
Actually, cake sounds rather good right now. I think I shall do likewise, and ice it with a little greenish butter-cream, by way of adding  some Froggish- Toadish (and Irish) charm.


  1. I love Frog & Toad! I feel all the greenery of your words. Excellent. The cupcakes look good, too.

  2. I wore green socks and had a green beer. Great that there is such quality literature available for beginning readers. Too often that genre of books is boring, insipid or Disney knock-offs which aren't really early readers at all.

  3. Annie Dillard said “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” To notice all the little things is a gift you have. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I'm all about the green, and probably more Toad than Frog.