Frog and Toad: The Fan Debate Book (all rights reserved)

I Heart Daily recently interviewed Michelle Pan, a 20 year old Twi-hard who oversees and wrote the “fan debate book,” Bella Should Have Dumped Edward.

According to Pan, this is what a fan debate book looks like:

I asked many questions relating to the controversial topics in the Twilight saga and fans submitted their responses. I then compiled them into a book and wrote my own opinions on the topics.

A fan debate book!?  I want to write a fan debate book!

And you know who are just begging for a fan debate book?  THESE GUYS:

That’s right.  Frog and Toad need a fan debate book.

I spent a truly mind-boggling amount of time with Frog and Toad whilst writing my thesis on easy readers and came up with a lot of questions in the process – questions that would set the stage for one heckuva fan debate book.

Does Frog serve as a gentle motivator or is he just a big jerk sometimes?

Frog does lots of nice things.  He fulfills Toad’s lifelong dream of receiving mail by sending him a letter, he coaxes him out of hibernation, and he buys him a hat that fits.   But when Toad clearly wants to have a cookie binge, Frog throws all the cookies out to the birds.  In “Shivers,” Frog won’t even tell Toad if a ghost story is true.  And, in the jerkiest move of all, Frog breaks their routine in “Alone” leaving Toad to worry that he has been abandoned by the only other talking amphibian in the forest (more on that later).

Does Toad suffer from a mental illness?

The signs are all there.  In  “Spring,” he doesn’t want to get out of bed (same with in “Tomorrow”). In “The Dream,” he has a seriously messed up dream with some pretty intense imagery involving theatrics and a shrinking Frog.  In “The List,” he is rendered useless when he loses the missive he wrote to himself.  Depression?  Delusions?  OCD?  This is the stuff fan debate books are made of.

Where are their shirts?

Frog and Toad where pants, belts and blazers, but no shirts.  WHY?

How can they participate in winter activities?

Just like Edward and his vampire pals, Frog and Toad are cold-blooded.  Or is it that Edward doesn’t have any blood?  I don’t know.  The point is that both Edward and Frog/Toad require special living conditions due to biology.  But, if Frog and Toad are cold-blooded, and hibernate in the winter, what the dang are they doing up and about in “Christmas Eve” and “Down the Hill?”

Do Frog and Toad drift apart by Book Four (Days With Frog and Toad)?

This is a real tough one – it would warrant a whole chapter, for sure.  In “Alone,” the final chapter in Frog and Toad’s saga, Frog drops a bombshell, leaving this note on his door for Toad:

Dear Toad,

I am not at home.

I went out.

I want to be alone.



Toad freaks out, finds Frog, and they mend fences when Frog says that he just wanted a bit of alone time – nothing permanent.  The story then ends with the most brilliant line of all time: “They were two close friends sitting alone together.”

But are fences really mended?  Has there been irreparable damage to their friendship?  Did this incident prove that Frog is really the one calling the shots in the friendship?  I’m telling you – the only way we’re ever going to get to the bottom of this is with a fan debate book.

So, I just thought I’d put it out there.  I don’t want a nasty Harry Potter-esque lawsuit on my hands when someone inevitably tries to make it big on the Frog and Toad enigma.

Forget Team Edward and Team Jacob.  It’s all about Team “I don’t think they wear shirts because it interferes with their natural cooling systems” and Team “I don’t think the store that they buy their little amphibian clothes at even sells shirts.”

Powell’s Books: The Haul

Haul videos and blog posts are amazing.  I have lost hours of my life watching juicystar07 with a kind of anthropological fascination.

I recently undertook my very first quest to Portland’s Powell’s Books.  As many of you probably already know, it deserves a massive Zoo-Wee Mama! for being so big and so awesome.

So, in the spirit of narcissism, capitalism, and juicystar07, I present to you my Powell’s purchases.

First, for only $3.00, a pristine copy of some paper dolls donning 1950s fashions.  This is still in print, thank heavens.

Next, Arnold Lobel’s Martha the Movie Mouse. The fact that this is out of print proves that there is much evil in this world.  For $2.95, it cost less than an Us Weekly, and there is no trace of Heidi Montag’s giant melons anywhere on this baby.

I think that James Marshall’s easy readers put Seuss to shame and thankfully these are still in print.  But for $1.50 and $2.50, I couldn’t resist!  Multiple copies of the same book may constitute hoarding, but I like to think of it as adding to my Marshall collection.

Three Up A Tree is the third member of this Trinity of Wonderfulness that chronicles the misadventures of Lolly, Sam, and Spider.

Okay, so I now have multiple copies of this too, but what a spiffy hardcover version this was – and for $2.95!

I never get over what a complete meanie Thelma is in this book. "No backsies?" HARSH.

I am now starting to realize I have a bit of a problem collecting different versions of my favourites, but how could one resist this itsy bitsy, hair-covered Little Fur Family!? Someone with no soul, that’s who.  And my soul is big, fat and fur-covered.  Now I just need to get me one of the original editions made with real rabbit fur.  Sorry, PETA.

And, now, the grand finale.  You saw Little Bear in my first post, but you didn’t see the absolutely darling Jenny’s Moonlight Adventure, didja?

New York Review Books has re-printed all of Esther Averill’s Jenny Linsky stories, but nothing beats the original.  So, so, so beautiful.  Little known fact: if I got a tattoo, it would be of Jenny Linsky.  Little Bear set me back $45.00 and Jenny set me back $28.00, but I am confident that my great grand-children may make a few dollars if they choose to re-sell these books (note: must make clause in will to be buried with these to prevent such a travesty).

So, there you have it.  My children’s book haul.

(For those of you interested in a more traditional haul report, I also got a lovely Free People jacket for 60% off and a darling Michael Kors cardigan for 70% off at Nordstrom Rack)

Little Bear Without Sendak?(!)

Looky-loo! That's my very own pristine copy of an early edition of Little Bear. If you ever come over, I may let you touch it. Please bring white gloves and a deep sense of reverence.

I thought my inaugural post should be something dear to my heart, and well, easy readers basically line my aorta. I wrote a really long paper on the birth of easy readers (i.e. – my MA thesis) because I love ’em, I think they need to get more cred, and they came about in the mid-1950s.  The mid-1950s was the most swingin’ time in American children’s book publishing with the best gossip: powerful librarians talking to dolls, editor rivalries, unknown authors and illustrators getting to just flounce up to the editor’s office.  Amazing.

One of the most interesting little gems I have come across is this New Hampshire Public Radio interview with Else Holmelund Minarik. And Holy Mother of Pearl, there is one heck of an interesting tidbit in there.

At the 4:00 mark, Minarik said that she, GET THIS, took the Little Bear manuscript to Random House before she ever took it to HarperCollins (then Harper and Brothers)!  And Random House passed, saying “If you can write about children, we’d be interested.”

Now, why is this so interesting?  Just imagine if Random House had accepted the Little Bear manuscript.  That would have meant no Sendak-drawn Little Bear (he was Ursula Nordstrom’s property and there’s no way the Random House peeps would have sought him out).  Can you imagine Little Bear without Sendak?  Can you imagine Sendak’s career without Little Bear? (I mean, he was already rockin’ it with Ruth Krauss and others, but that lil’ ursine munchkin is an important part of his almighty portfolio)

I truly believe that the whole easy reader genre could have gone down an entirely different path if it weren’t for the Sendak/Minarik partnership.  With no word list, and that dear, quaint, comfy Victorian-inspired art, Little Bear set the bar for both I Can Read and other publishers.

Any Grade 6 researcher could find the Minarik interview as it is linked to her Wikipedia page.  But I’ve never seen it discussed anywhere, which is surprising, considering how different things could have been if Little Bear had been a Beginner Book.  I mean, really.

Ah, 1950s children’s publishing gossip.  Is there anything better in the world?  No.