Book Review: Philip Pelletier, “One Night in Frogtown”

Cool picture, huh? It comes from a scene halfway through Philip Pelletier’s One Night in Frogtown, in which our hero, young Tad — that’s him there with the downcast look and the saxophone — is given a tongue-lashing (ha, ha, ha!) by a group of classical music-playing frogs who have no patience for Tad’s love of the blues. Of course, Tad’s already been cast out by the blues-playing frogs for not loving the blues enough — and his journey’s only halfway finished, because all the frogs in Frogtown are pretty stuck up about their favorite kind of music, and they take offense at Tad’s eclectic nature.

In case you hadn’t already guessed, One Night in Frogtown is a book about fitting in, and one that uses love of music (which can be a pretty divisive thing, especially when you’re young) to frame its message of friendship and cultural diversity. Children’s authors do this sort of thing all the time, but Frogtown has the added advantage of Lindner’s wonderful illustrations — and the CD that comes with the book, featuring music to go along with the songs each group of frogs sings (blues, classical, rap, etc.) as well as the tune Tad plays after he’s been exiled for the third time (a ballad titled, naturally, “Alone”). Blues veteran (and, like Pelletier and Lindner, Oregon resident) Curtis Salgado provides the narration.

After the book arrived, I did what I always do: Handed it to my three-year-old daughter and watched her reaction. She was immediately drawn in, to the point that the scene where Tad talks about feeling alone actually made her cry. (She still won’t listen to the song.) We read the book first without the CD, then tried to read along with the music — but getting a toddler to sit and look at one page of a book for three minutes while a song plays is impossible, and she lost interest pretty quickly.

Overall, One Night in Frogtown is a beautifully assembled multimedia package with a moral that any parent should be able to get behind and some perfectly entertaining music to go along with it — and a portion of the proceeds go to the Oregon Cultural Trust, to boot. As final proof, weeks after reading it for the first time, my daughter’s still talking about it; in fact, she just took it into preschool to share it. What else can you ask for in a kids’ book?

Sample pages, hear music, and purchase One Night in Frogtown here.

  • Clara

    Hey,
    my name is Clara. I love Frogtown! It is my favorite book ever! I have seen it on a couple of other websites as well, but this one stands out to me because of the different picture. I love that picture! It is funny, because that is one of my favorite pictures in the whole book! I also love the one at the end. The one with all of the frogs singing together! I love this book! it is the coolest thing ever! Me and my friends love Frogtown! I can't wait for the Frogtown LIVE! show at the Bagdad Theater in Portland on the sixth of December!!! I love Frogtown! it is the best book ever written and the pictures are amazing too! FROGTOWN RULES!

  • Christie

    lovely review! I love this book! so very much! It is a fantastic story and it celebrates diversity in a very positive way! I am very excited to hear that a live show is being put on at the Bagdad this upcoming Saturday!!!!!!!! i hope to be able to make it!

  • Christie

    lovely review! I love this book! so very much! It is a fantastic story and it celebrates diversity in a very positive way! I am very excited to hear that a live show is being put on at the Bagdad this upcoming Saturday!!!!!!!! i hope to be able to make it!

  • Schmidt721

    My twin boys LOVE “One Night In Frogtown”! They play it all the time and take turns acting out all the characters and singing along. It’s got a great message and the music is excellent! Luckily it’s not just for kids, so it doesn’t drive me nuts when they play it over and over! I ordered the book/CD online at the Frogtown website: http://www.frogtowncentral.com
    There’s news about live shows and school visits there too. We are hoping Frogtown will visit their school this spring and do a musical assembly in the gym. I am buying a bunch more books as holiday gifts this year.