Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Springing Into Spring

One of the first sounds signaling a shift in the seasons is the raised voices of spring peepers.  When their symphony shatters the night's silence, it's a song of renewal.  As nature's alarm system their vigilance is unparalleled.  As soon as an intruder is noticed their chorus stops.  Their coloring keeps them very well camouflaged among the forests and nearby wetlands.

If you are fortunate, remain still and quiet for a long time, you may have some of them as youngsters, or one of their relatives, swim about your hands, feet or legs in a nearby pond.  Leaps And Bounce: A Growing Up Story (Disney Hyperion, March 15, 2015) written by Susan Hood with illustrations by Matthew Cordell is another spirited collaboration by the duo who brought us Rooting For You: A Moving Up Story.  For readers' enjoyment we are given pond-side seats in which to view this jazzy journey.

Round and spotted,
eggs aboard
a bubble boat---
Watch them dip and dive and float.

This mysterious mass is in motion.  Creatures of this watery world are not quite sure what it is.  Soon those tiny spheres house more than dots.

Tiny dancers twist their way out.  If they could, we would hear them shout!  Every movement made among the wary residents is brimming with mirth.  What's that we see?  First tails and now four legs are growing from baby bodies which began as eggs.

Look closely now, anticipation fills the air.  A difference is expected.  What was there has now departed.

Fully formed frogs plunge down and reach up; the pond is their playground.  These cavorting croakers inhabit continents six.  Dots in circles marvelously modify.

With the same exuberance as her subjects exhibit Susan Hood spins a tale of growth. Her collection of words when read silently or aloud literally zip off the page; alliteration and rhyme combining to bring the essence of all things frog to readers.  Not only do we fully understand the cycle of egg to adult but we are given a glimpse of other creatures making a home in their watery realm.  Here is a sample passage.

Muddy mayhem!
Honks and quacks
alert the newts
and sticklebacks

that just as sure as rivers flow,
changes come to all who grow.

From edge to edge, left to right, the matching dust jacket and book case reveal the shifts eggs, tadpoles and frogs face.  Beneath and above the water from back to front, dragonflies and a duck bear witness to the changes cheerfully embraced. The red used on the text adds to the enthusiasm maintained throughout the book.  On the opening endpapers a large expanse of sky dotted with clouds and a bright sun oversee a few eggs bobbing on waves.  Three smiling, wide-eyed frogs peer above the water's surface as stars share the night sky with a full moon on the closing endpapers.

A two-page image stretches across the verso and title pages.  Most of the scene is beneath the water with a single frog leaping at the top of the center on the right side.  All of Matthew Cordell's illustrations span two or more pages courtesy of numerous fold-outs.  There are three three-page and one four-page fold-outs.

A color palette reflective of the habitat of frogs is used by Matthew Cordell but the specific hues are his signature selections.  The lines and shapes, the comic expressions on the animals and the sheer happy energy in all the illustrations are pure Cordell.  Careful readers will notice a correlation between the lives of the frogs and the time of day shown in the sky.

One of my favorite of many illustrations is for the sample passage shown above.  The peppy tadpoles are swarming through and above the muddy bottom.  Two startled newts have their arms raised in alarm.  A fish is watching all this aghast at the mayhem.  A goose and two ducks are paddle-running on the surface of the water, squawking their dismay.

It's guaranteed when reading Leaps And Bounce: A Growing Up Story written by Susan Hood with illustrations by Matthew Cordell you will be smiling from beginning to end.  The words and pictures are full of a zest for growing and living.  I have not had quite this much fun reading about frogs since I first read Tuesday by David Wiesner.

To discover more about Susan Hood and Matthew Cordell please follow the links attached to their names to access their websites and Cordell's blog.


  1. I read & enjoyed this a few weeks ago, Margie. I'm a huge fan of Matthew Cordell's art!

    1. I am so happy you had a chance to read this Maria. I am a huge fan of Matthew's work too. 2013 was a banner year when I got to meet him at ALA June 2013 in Chicago.