Book Review: Frog and Toad Story Books 青蛙和蟾蜍

Frog and Toad (in Simplified Chinese) is a charming set of 4-books, which tells a timeless story of friendship, having been written over 50 years ago …. it’s perfect as an early chapter book for an emerging reader, with less pictures and more text.

The high level stats

Author: Arnold Lobel
Number of books in set: 4 books, each with 5 chapters/stories in each
Number of lines per page : 2 – 12
Number of pages per book: 64
Total length of the book: ~2500 characters (about 500 characters in each chapter)
Characters required by child to read it independently: 1000~1200
Luka compatible: Yes
Pinyin: No
Available in Singapore NLB: Yes
Original language of publication: English

Synopsis of Frog and Toad

A frog and toad (conveniently named Frog and Toad) are an odd couple – very different personalities, but best pals. Frog is practical and sensible, whilst Toad is emotional and disorganised.  In a way, they mirror the acclaimed Elephant & Piggie picture books, which also paint a loyal and compassionate animal friendship, but Frog and Toad is closer to a novel for a slightly more advanced reader. 

The stories are endearing because Frog and Toad’s adventures are simple every day activities – going for a walk, reading, cooking, cleaning the house or tending a garden. 

This book set was actually the second set of non-picture books that my daughter read (the first bookset was Little Fox).  She lapped them up.  Each Frog and Toad book contains five short stories, originally written in English, and they’ve been translated equally beautifully into Simplified Chinese.  For a child who knows 1000 characters, these will be a fairly easy, yet thought provoking read.

Mum’s view

I thought these books looked old fashioned, with dated pictures…. probably because the front cover looks like a cross between Little Bear Books (verging on boring) and Mr Toad from the century old Wind in the Willows (charmingly dull). Thankfully Arnold Lobel’s Frog & Toad is nothing like either of those titles (it’s much more funny and absurd) and I glad my daughter picked them up to read, even after my initial reluctance. Good lesson to mum: really don’t judge a book from its front cover!.

Like many children’s books from the 1960s & 1970s, Frog and Toad involves characters overcoming common problems which arise from vice activities…… like anger, envy, sloth, pride, and gluttony.   The stories demonstrate the ups and downs of human (and amphibian) relationships and life in general. Importantly they remind young readers to appreciate their unique individuality, and that selflessness, self control and sacrifice is part of making life enjoyable.  These are such big lessons that I really want to teach all the little people in my life.

I sound like I’m preaching now, but these stories are actually such a humorous and dramatic way to share these important life lessons and create discussions.  For example, when Frog makes fun of Toad’s impractical and oddly styled swimsuit, Toad responds to the mocking by calmly parading the bathing suit past the crowd.  Another nice one is when Toad bakes cookies, and they each overindulge…. for days!.  Finally after talking for hours about how to stop, they decide to share the cookies with some birds in an ingenious solution to control their cookie consumption.

Why it’s good

  • High repetition of characters: we learnt a few new characters like toad (蟾蜍) which is obviously repeated many times
  • Action packed but easy to follow short stories: to help young readers stay engaged across the 60+ pages
  • Audio available: Compatible with Luka audio or Ximalaya for high quality narration (we didn’t use it for this)
  • Layout: No pinyin or English; large, clear print on a plain white background; still has a few scattered simple pictures, to assist with making the leap from picture books to novels
  • Laugh-out-loud funny in places
  • Bonus:  parents will actually enjoy the stories and discussions the ensue too!

Frog & Toad Book Titles

  • Frog and Toad Are Friends 青蛙和蟾蜍-好朋友
  • Frog and Toad Together 青蛙和蟾蜍-好伙伴
  • Days With Frog and Toad 青蛙和蟾蜍-快乐时光
  • Frog and Toad All Year 青蛙和蟾蜍-快乐年年
青蛙和蟾蜍 books in Simplified Chinese

Where to buy Frog and Toad in Singapore

Frog and Toad is stocked at the following places:

  • Luka Reads (online) use the code lahlah10offbooks at checkout for 10% off
  • Maha Yuyi (physical store and online)
  • Amazon / Lazada / Shoppee
  • Borrow it from your local NLB Library (which is how we discovered it)

There are many wonderful bookstores online in Singapore. See my earlier post on our favourite bookstores in Singapore if you’re looking for inspiration on where to get lovely reads from, and also discover some discount promo codes from the bookstores.

Other similar stories

If your child enjoyed Frog and Toad series, maybe they’ll also enjoy other books we’ve discovered. Some ideas:

  • Slightly higher/harder reading level to Frog and Toad: 
    • Wilma the Elephant series (set of four) 大象小不点
    • Marching Penguins series (set of eleven) 企鹅机动队套书

  • Similar life lessons and story style to Frog and Toad (with anthropomorphic characters):
    • Elephant & Piggie series (set of seventeen) 开心小猪和大象哥哥
    • The Story of Little Fox (set of four) 小狐狸的故事

Below is a graphic I put together with a comparison of where I feel Frog & Toad sits with respect to other well known Chinese bridging books for children.

List of good Chinese bridging book for children after finishing Le Le or Odonata series

You’ll see some of these books are simple in nature but very long (like mini-chapter books); others are picture books with limited word count but harder words.  It really depends on your child which avenue to go down. 

Whilst I’ve sorted this list from easiest to hardest by the numbers of characters which a child can recognise,  my suggestion is that instead of focussing on number of characters learnt, focus on quality time spent reading (which means finding a book the child enjoys). As a rule of thumb, a good book is one where no more than 10~15% of characters are new to the child. We use our dictionary pens (Youdao pen or iFlyTek) to fill in the gaps for new characters, since as an illiterate parent, I’m not much help.

What’s your favourite graded reader?

I would love to know what books you think are great at this same level! Please add comments below, or through my my Instagram or Facebook feeds. It’s only through meeting other wonderful parents virtually, that this shared language journey becomes a more valuable one.

If you’re in Singapore, join the conversation with other like-minded parents at the FB Group Ni Hao Singapore Primary School learning, which I host along with a few other Singapore-based bloggers, including the amazing Ms Claudia Lee Kimura.

I’ve also written detailed reviews of other graded readers that we’ve tried, and Chinese learning resources, see below:

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: