The Tale of the Valiant Ninja Frog

The Tale of the Valiant Ninja Frog
Alastair Chisholm and Jez Tuya
Walker Books

Siblings Abby and Jamie certainly aren’t lacking in imagination and they love to hear a good story, so a night camping under the stars offers the perfect time and place for a tale from Dad. He’s more than willing so, as he toasts marshmallows over a fire, the children suggest the characters to include – the Prince, the Frog, (inspired by Abby’s soft toy) the Princess, the Witch and a MONSTER.

Dad begins his yarn: “It was a dark and stormy night and at the bottom of a horrible mountain … were the heroes.” Enter the cast – mounted on his steed comes the handsome Prince; then there’s the Princess (a closet jewel thief of the daring kind), witch Bogwort – (a Ninja when necessary)

and the gruesome Grubber.

Soon the interruptions start: first it’s Abby who seems set on ensuring that the Frog features large despite its diminutive stature. Thereafter the siblings’ interjections turn the plot this way and that as the three of them co-create a very funny, exciting fantasy with Dad accommodating the children’s ideas into the narrative. A narrative made all the more fun thanks to Jez Tuya’s comical – often slapstick – illustrations of larger-than-life story characters particularly that hirsute giant,

and Barry the frog – hurrah! Yes, despite Jamie’s dismissive scorning, the part he plays in making a happy ever after finale is far from small.

I love the close-up perspectives and the panel sequence

– actually I love everything about this book. So too will young listeners who will surely respond with relish to any adult sharer giving it the dynamic performance the tale deserves.

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