Friday, September 14, 2007

Frog and Toad and Kacy are Friends

I recently bought this book for my kids. I had it growing up. It's really good and I love it. I guess I always thought Frog was Toad and Toad was Frog. I know better now. I think of all the characters from children's stories that I identify with I relate to Toad best. I'm just more like him than anyone, even though I fancied myself like Harriet the Spy for a while. During that time I hypothesized that the gardener who worked for Grandview Farms (the condos behind my house) was growing marijuana around the edges of the condos. I also decided he was a hunchback, which made it all pretty dramatic and eerie. In reality he looked a lot like Buck Henry: One day I found a set of the gardener's keys. I kept them and wondered what Harriet the Spy would do. I put them back without having a single caper. See--I'm Toad.

When I re-read Frog and Toad with my kids I was pleasantly surprised with charming little tales I had forgotten but I finally came to the story I have always remembered. Frog and Toad go swimming. Toad's anxiety is so realistic to me about his swimming suit that it is almost painful to read. It's so nice how Frog tries to help him out and it's also a little edgy that Frog just swims naked.

Toad wears a black and white striped old fashioned one-piecer. He won't get in or out of the water when people (animals, I guess) are watching him so he stays in the water until nighttime and gets really cold. He eventually comes out and everyone laughs at him, just as he feared they would. It's a good lesson. He actually drew more attention to himself by wanting to avoid attention. I sometimes do that accidentally. In the end, what he feared would happen did happen. Toad doesn't have a heart-warming experience where he realizes that all the animals actually support him and would never laugh at him. That's what is so great about it.

I also relate a lot to Toad because he loves to stay in bed and tends toward slightly depressed. I guess he has what we now call Seasonal Affective Disorder. Frog gets Toad up and out of bed by pulling off the winter months from the calendar--Frog's a genius when it comes to motivating Toad. I dont' know why Frog is so devoted to Toad but I find it moving. I can imagine them in some sort of mercy-killing scenario if one of them were in a lot of pain or paralyzed.

I don't have Seasonal Affective Disorder but I just feel like Toad so much. I think I probably hang out with a lot of people that would relate more to a character such as Eloise, but I don't relate to her at all. I am so much more like Toad even though he's not a human. I read Nancy Drew but I lacked her sophistication. I liked Encyclopedia Brown but I wasn't precocious. Curious George bugged and while I liked Amelia Bedelia, I knew the joke was on her. I LOVED The Giant Jam Sandwich. There's no one character in that book that I relate to but I would feel comfortable in any community that shares a collective enthusiasm for making a really big sandwich. I was fascinated by that lady who takes in Babar for a while. It's kind of like she is in love with him. I yearned for the comraderie of a Babar but I just wasn't that desperate.

I was never as Grumpy as Oscar nor as naive as Big Bird. Grover seemed to have some vague grasp of irony but he was still a little dumb. I wish I were as earnest as Kermit, but I'm not. The Count was too whacked out with his own obsessions. Don't even bring up Elmo or I will punch you in the face. But I probably really wouldn't: Can you imagine Toad mustering up the moxy to punch anyone in the face?

12 comments:

  1. You really ARE Toad. But I wonder if art imitated life or if life imitated art in this case, i.e., did you BECOME like Toad from reading about him, or was Toad written from real life experiences with Kacy? It's a question for the ages. I hate Elmo, too.

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  2. All I have to say is, "You're no Frank Burns."

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  3. Frog and Toad are great. I vaguely remember reading about them. We are reading toddler books at our house right now. I can't really check out Frog and Toad from the library yet without getting weird looks from the Librarian as I stand there with Porter. I'll have to wait to enjoy them again later.

    Nancy Drew is so cool. I'm not saying I relate to or resemble her. I really wanted to be her.
    I never wanted to be like Ramona Quimbly, she was a pest. Confession, I got hooked on the Babysitters Club books, pre-teen drama sucked me right in.

    What about the book: Are You There God It's Me Margaret. My friends and I thought we'd be in trouble for reading that book.

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  4. I have a few Frog and Toad books and you are right, they are pretty funny. My son is 8 months old and I read them to him already, mainly for my own enjoyment. So far he sits and listens for a few stories at a time before getting bored.

    Most of his books are books I read when I was a kid. Other favorites (because they are funny now that I am an adult) are Frances the badger, and also Little Bear.

    The F&T book I read most recently had a story called "Cookies." Do you know that one? I think it is from Frog and Toad Together. Anyway Toad makes a ton of cookies and brings them over to Frog's house. They eat them almost obsessively and, after Frog tells Toad about "will power," they try to stop eating to no avail. Frog puts them in a box, then wraps up the box and ties it with string, etc. etc. but nothing works. Finally they feed them to the birds--sorry to spoil the ending--and talk about how now they have "will power." I mean really, they ate a TON of cookies.

    I also loooved Harriet the Spy and also The Long Secret, the ending of which I was TOTALLY surprised by (the first time). I loved Are You There God? It's Me Margaret, although I was perplexed by references to the "belt," if you know what I am talking about. I heard an interview with Judy Blume on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, and she said that book has since been updated to reflect "modern" sanitary methods. I thought that was funny.

    Sorry for the long comment. But I just love kids' books and am glad I have an excuse to read them, even when it's an "I Can Read" book and my child is still a baby.

    I don't read him Judy Blume books though, in case there is any confusion. I think it's OK for him at this point to learn about binge eating from Toad but not to learn about "belts" from Margaret.

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  5. Also--sorry to get carried away--have you ever read the "modern" Nancy Drew books? I mean the ones that were written in the 80s. I read those when I think I was a little too young. They can be quite steamy, and from what I remember, the steamy scenes were never between Nancy and Ned but between Nancy and some random guy she meets while doing her amateur sleuthing. Maybe my mom should have paid more attention to what I was reading. Then again I was 9 or 10 so the "steaminess" was probably pretty benign.

    And what is the deal with Elmo, I don't remember him from watching Sesame Street. He is so obnoxious.

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  6. Owen really likes Frog and Toad are Friends. I'm a lot like Toad too. Especially in the story where he hibernates. When Frog shows up all peppy and ready to have fun and Toad wants to sleep for a few more months... THAT'S ME! I could totally hibernate. You sleep for a long time and wake up skinny.

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  7. Frog & Toad are great! I also love my beat-up-patched-up-taped-up copy of The Giant Jam Sandwich.

    I used to spy on our neighbors too and keep notes in a book. You sure you haven't been reading Harriet the Spy novels to Ben??? =)

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  8. Might I suggest the Trixie Beldon series? She's the not rich and beautiful, human version of Nancy Drew.
    Thomas is especially annoying--selfish and unkind. I hate reading those to Cubby and I will NOT buy any Thomas movies...I won't!

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  9. My favorite Frog and Toad moment is where Frog convinces Toad to get out of bed and go for a walk and they almost get eaten by a snake. The snake says (in a menacing, hissy voice) "Hello, lunch." I thought that was so clever, "hello, lunch", and I have been known to say that to the appropriate mid-day meal.

    Am I Frog to your Toad? Do we need to take more field trips?

    I related to most to "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" because I was always hungry and looking for things I could eat outside..i mostly dug up roots ate clover.

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  10. You certainly seemed more froggy in high school.

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  11. I feel like I have failed a complete generation by having never introduced them to Frog and Toad. I never knew they existed. For myself, growing up with Dr.Suess was the best. "I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them, Sam I am".
    Ah those were the days.

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  12. I love Frog and Toad. I read those over and over to my kids. I censor way too much in my house. If the kids have a book I hate, I give it away while they are at school because I just can't stand to read it aloud. I'd never give away the Frog and Toad books. Good times.

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