Saturday, August 18, 2018

Life According to Og the Frog

Birney, Betty G. Life According to Og the Frog
July 3rd 2018 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Copy provided by the publisher

Og has been living in Room 27, alongside George the bullfrog. This is not an ideal situation, as bullfrogs are loud and tend toward bullying. When Og is transferred to Room 26, he really can't complain. Things seem a bit quieter, although there is a hamster in the room, Humphrey, who seems nice but can't manage to communicate with Og. Mrs. Brisbane seems very nice, and a custodian, Aldo, frequently talks to the animals and shares his food with them. When students find out that Og was removed from his swamp home by a fellow student's grandfather, and that's how he ended up in the school, there is an uproar. Some of the students think that Og should be returned to his friends and family, but other students think that Og is enjoying his life in the classroom, which is a safer place for him to be. Mrs. Brisbane even has a herpetologist visit the classroom to explain about life in the swamp and to help the students decide whether Og should remain with them or be transferred to a wildlife center, since taking him back to his swamp might transfer diseases to other animals. Og isn't quite sure what to think. He misses his old life, but is warming to his work in the classroom. When the class votes, one vote appears to be from Humphrey (who can write in a small notebook!), which bodes well for future communication between the two classroom residents.
Strengths: This is a great way to sneak life science facts to elementary readers. We learn a lot about what Og eats, what the swamp was like, and the sorts of activities in which frogs participate. It's also fun to see how different students react to Og and his predicament, and it's good that the teacher brings in a specialist to give the class more information. With an appealing cover, this is bound to be a popular book with students who like animal fiction. My younger daughter, who was a very picky reader, was a big fan of the Humphrey books, which were brand new when she was in the target demographic.
Weaknesses: I always have trouble with talking animals, and this time I was stuck on the fact that Og could understand English but NOT hamster? It would have been nice if the two classroom pets would have had more interaction, but perhaps they will as the series continues.
What I really think: Since I don't have the Humphrey series in my library, I will send this on to one of the elementary schools, where I am sure fans of Humphrey will be very glad to read it.

Ms. Yingling

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