Frog and Toad

In the early 1970s Arnold Lobel (1933-1987) wrote a series of gentle, thoughtful children's stories which featured two characters named Frog and Toad. The books' illustrations are lovely pastels, the vocabulary is straightforward, and the plots are simple. One of the duo bakes cookies, and after enjoying a few together our heroes struggle to stop eating them before they're all gone. Or one loses a button, and as they search together for it a host of other buttons turn up, each wrong in some way—wrong color, wrong size, wrong number of holes, wrong shape. Or one makes a to-do list and then misplaces it; with the other, he strives to reconstruct the items on the list, and eventually figures out how not to fret over it.

But the most brilliant Frog and Toad story is surely "The Surprise". One day each goes to the other one's house and, by pure coincidence, simultaneously decides to rake fallen leaves as a secret favor. The labor is hard, but when it's done each feels happy and proud as he returns to his home. But as they're separately walking back a wind rises and scatters the piles of leaves, wiping out all of their work. They reach home and each sees a big job of raking ahead of him. But as they prepare to tackle it, both Frog and Toad feel good. Each remembers the anonymous gift he's given the other.

So Zen!

(cf. ReadAloud (2002-03-20), Sunrise Service at Seneca Creek (2008-03-24), ...) - ^z - 2009-01-09