You may or may not have had occasion to read Frog and Toad Are Friends recently. However, if you are like me, and have a young child, you may have read it hundreds of times in the last few months.
And happily so.
The Frog and Toad series, by British author, Arnold Lobel, are among the children’s books that one can read repeatedly and still enjoy, or at least tolerate, or at least not totally loathe.
In fact, I love Frog and Toad and especially Frog and Toad Together. The stories are good, the characters relatable, and the endings are brilliant. Enviable. Analysis-worthy.
But let’s start with two excellent characters, long time bffs. Frog is the elder statesman, the more responsible, more reliable, wiser character with Toad, his immature, ill-mannered, ill-temperated, often neurotic and, of course, good-hearted best friend. Toad is usually suffering through some lesson, something which more often than not, he does not appreciate. My daughter has often said, you’re Frog and I’m Toad, and tonight when I asked her who her best friend was, she said, “You.” So, I guess, I’m still Frog, which is kind of funny, since I relate more to Toad, despite my being older and wiser.
Cookies, a story about Frog and Toad binging on delicious cookies that Toad has baked, ends with Frog giving all the cookies to the birds in order for them to gain willpower. Toad rejects this concept announcing that Frog can keep the willpower–he is going home to bake a cake.
Almost every story is a juicy little nugget; shaped perfectly, with just the appropriate amount of plot and character development to make them full bodied and delicious. And the endings… I don’t want to use the word perfect, but, they really are.
They often end with “place,” like, “The hands of the clock moved to show the hours of a merry Christmas Eve.” Or, “Then they sat in the shade of a large tree and ate their chocolate ice-cream cones together.” “They ran around the corner of Frog’s house to make sure that spring had come again.” In one, Toad has the last word, “Winter may be beautiful, but bed is much better.”
I think my favorite is from The Letter (Frog and Toad are Friends): “Toad was very pleased to have it.” It really comes down to a mixture of closure and uplift. It’s just so damn satisfying. You feel as good as Toad getting his first and probably last letter (sent to him by Frog, of course). Just two best friends feeling as content as can be, as right in their little world as conceivably possible. The best part is, Frog has already told Toad the contents of the letter, because he has to convince him to wait for it, being, as it is, delivered with interminable slowness, by snail. But they actually end up enjoying the wait because they share the knowledge of the contents of the letter. Togetherness is a big happy theme too. But I digress. I mean, what more can I really say?
Toad was very pleased to have it.