A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
JUNE 20:

  • Happy birthday Vikram Seth (Arion and the Dolphin).
  • In 1837, Victoria becomes Queen of England. Read Queen Victoria by Robert Green and In the Days of Queen Victoria by Eva March Tappan.
  • Happy birthday West Virginia, which became the 35th state in 1863. Read Blue-Eyed Daisy by Cynthia Rylant.
  • It’s Ice Cream Soda Day. Read Soda Jerk by Cynthia Rylant.
  • It’s American Eagle Day Read Soaring with the Wind by Gail Gibbons; The Eagle by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Preston McDaniels; Eagle Song by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by Dan Andreasen; and The Ledgerbook of Thomas Blue Eagle by Gay Matthaei and Jewel H. Grutman, illustrated by Adam Cvijanovic.

In June of 1970, one of the best children’s books about friendship was published, Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad Are Friends, a Caldecott Honor book.

Lobel, who studied at Pratt to become an illustrator, made the most important connection of his creative career when he walked into Harper & Row one day to show his portfolio. The young Susan Carr Hirschman immediately recognized Lobel’s talent as an artist and asked him to illustrate one of the I Can Read books that Harper had been developing. Hirschman also quickly sensed that Lobel could both write and illustrate; his first solo I Can Read title, Lucille, appeared in 1964.

To escape the heat of New York City in the summer, the Lobel family, Arnold, his wife Anita, and their two children, vacationed on Lake Bomoseen in Vermont. A city boy, Lobel was terrified by living in the country, where marauding raccoons created noises. When a bat flew into the cabin, Lobel dove under the bed. But for the children, everything seemed pure bliss. Exploring a nearby swamp, they brought home a large slimy frog and two dour and dyspeptic toads.

Back in New York, searching for the subject matter for a new book, Lobel thought back to the summer, now more wonderful in reflection than it had been in experience. He wrote the words, “Frog ran up the path to Toad’s house,” and the story began to pour forth. Lobel was a master at crafting narrative. His handwritten manuscript for Frog and Toad Are Friends, housed in the Kerlan Collection of the University of Minnesota, is remarkably close to the final text and needed only a few changes before it appeared in print.

Known for his close ties to other illustrators such as Maurice Sendak and Jim Marshall, Lobel could write about friendship brilliantly. In five short stories two unlikely companions, a cheerful green frog and a dour brown toad, are bound by friendship and understanding. They experience the simple joys of life: Toad makes Frog a cup of tea when he looks sick; Frog helps Toad hunt for a lost button. With kindness and sensitivity to each other’s needs, they make each other’s lives better and inspire children to think about the needs of their own friends.

So happy birthday Frog and Toad—may you be well and stay with us for at least another four decades.

Here’s a page from Frog and Toad Are Friends:

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Originally posted June 20, 2011. Updated for .

Tags: Animals, Friendship, Frogs
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Frog and Toad Are Friends
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COMMENTS

  1. Mary D says:

    There is something just so wonderful about these friends! You named it: bliss born of kindness and sensitivity.

  2. Charone says:

    I so enjoy the Frog and Toad stories and often use them in my classroom to keep the students interested in reading. They find the stories hillarious-just as I did as a youngster.

  3. Janelle says:

    Earlier this month we checked out the audio version of “Frog and Toad are Friends” from our library. What a happy surprise to find out that Lobel narrated the book himself!

  4. Rebecca says:

    I recently read these books with my almost first grader who is learning to read, and also happens to have Aspergers. I was struck once again by the beauty and simplicity of the language and drawings. He loved them too; as an added bonus, their messages of friendship and caring really sunk in– abstractions that are incredibly difficult for him to grasp. There is an entire industry (booming, unfortunately) dedicated to explaining such things to the growing legion of kids who need them explicitly taught. In Cynthia Lord’s Rules the siblings spoke to each other in a special language based on Frog and Toad. In the words of the narrator to her brother: “If you need to borrow words, Arnold Lobel wrote some good ones.” I agree.

  5. G.Perry says:

    When I first came across these books, I loved them so much, I would read a page and then close my eyes, take three slow deep breaths, let my shoulders drop, and just let myself absorb the friendship and kindness coming out of those pages. That’s not a thing everyone gets in childhood.

    Experiencing those feelings now as I have with this book, my little microscopic DNA fireflies swirl around and around me, and they begin to softly sing my name, and then there’s a new place in my soul. (So to speak.)

  6. Kathleen T. says:

    I read these books over and over again to my children. The story we found particularly endearing was “A Lost Button.” Frog was patient and kind as he helped his friend, Toad, search for his lost button. Toad returned his friend’s kindness by sewing all the stray buttons they had found onto his coat and giving it Frog. It was a very sweet gesture and a good lesson in compassion.

  7. Barb says:

    Thank you again Anita for the wonderful work you do. I used this story of the inspiration of Frog & Toad with my first-graders when they were doing a Frog unit and I was doing a Lobel author study. They loved it.

  8. I was the assistant to Barbara Borack, the editor of “Frog and Toad Are Friends.” I remember the dummy of the book being almost publishable–the sketches were so finished. Arnold had a turtle named Wilbur who needed a home while the Lobels were out of town. I offered to babysit. To my surprise, Wilbur laid two eggs on the floor. Arnold revised Wilbur’s name to Wilbira.

  9. Anita says:

    Fran: Thanks for the comments. I looked at the first drafts at the Kerlan and even they were amazingly close to the final book.

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