Friday, February 29, 2008

Leaping Lizards! It's the Year of the Frog

I read Tricia’s post Leap into the Year of the Frog at The Miss Rumphius Effect and found out about the efforts of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to call people’s attention to the fact that many amphibian species are threatened with extinction. For your information, I have included an excerpt from AZA’s website:

“Frogs are going extinct. So are toads, salamanders, newts, and the intriguingly unusual caecilians. In fact, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) estimates that at least one-third of known amphibian species are threatened with extinction. While the major culprit has historically been habitat loss and degradation, many of the declines and extinctions previously referred to as "enigmatic" are now being attributed to the rapidly dispersing infectious disease chytridiomycosis, which is caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). Bd is causing population and species extinctions at an alarming rate. Can you imagine if we were about to lose one-third of the world's mammals?”

Here is a mask poem I wrote about frogs, which I am dedicating to The Year of the Frog.

by Elaine Magliaro

The day we hatched from jellied eggs…
We looked like fish.
We had no legs.
We breathed through gills.
We had no lungs.
We didn’t have long sticky tongues.
We didn’t look like frogs…for sure.
But then we started to mature.
And day by day we changed and grew.
To tails and gills we bid adieu.
Now we have lungs and four fine limbs…
And we can croak
and jump

And here’s an excerpt from one of my favorite “point of view” poems. The entire poem is posted on the Poetry Now! page at Joyce Sidman’s website.

From A Frog in a Well Explains the World
by Alice Schertle

The world is round
and deep
and cool.
The bottom of the world’s
a pool
with just enough room
for a frog alone.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

Some Recommended Books about Frogs and Toads


A Toad by the Road: A Year in the Life of These Amazing Amphibians
Written by
Joanne Ryder
Illustrated by Maggie Kneen
Henry Holt

To read my review of this poetry collection, click here.

Lizards, Frogs, and Polliwogs
Written & illustrated by Douglas Florian

I enjoy all of Douglas Florian’s collections of animal poems. Lizards, Frogs, and Polliwogs is one of my favorites. The rhythmic, rhyming, lighthearted amphibian and reptile poems in this book are full of clever wordplay and are lots of fun to read aloud. This book is sure to be a hit with children and adults alike. The collection includes poems about polliwogs, spring peepers, a glass frog, the newt, the wood frog, the red-eyed tree frog, a bullfrog, and poison-dart frogs.

Here’s an excerpt from The Wood Frog, a poem about a hibernating amphibian:

My temperature is ten degrees.
I froze my nose, my toes,my knees.
But I don’t care, I feel at ease,
For I am full of antifreeze.

Marsh Music
Written by Marianne Berkes
Ilustrated By
Robert Noreika

As night arrives, a marsh comes alive with music. A bullfrog maestro raises a baton and starts to conduct a chorus of different species of frogs as they begin singing:

The rain has stopped.
Night is coming.
The pond awakes with
Quiet humming.

Maestro frog hops to the mound
As night begins to fill with sound.

Peepers peep pe-ep, peep, peep.
They have had a good day’s sleep!

Chorus frogs are hard to see.
Hear them chirping do re mi.

Other frogs and toads join in, including green frogs and American toads and wood frogs and pig frogs. Two leopard frogs pirouette and leap through the air as they dance ballet on lily pads. Even stars “are twinkling to the tune/As they dance around the moon."

Then dawn arrives, the maestro puts down his baton, and the frogs go to sleep. The marsh is quiet…but not for long…because another marsh melody is heard—that of a bird!

The back matter of the book includes a Glossary of Musical Terms with definitions for certain words used in the text—including adagio, moderato, percussion, and woodwinds. It also includes two pages with information about “The Cast” of amphibian performers named in the book: “Maestro” Bullfrog, Spring Peepers, Chorus Frogs, American Toads, Green Frogs, Narrow-mouthed Toads, Wood Frogs, Pig Frogs, Green Tree Frogs, Leopard Frogs, Barking Tree Frogs.


How to Hide a Meadow Frog & Other Amphibians
Written & illustrated by Ruth Heller
Grosset & Dunlap

Here’s how the book begins:

It leaps about,

With suction cups
upon its toes,
it clings to things.
Then off it goes.

on the
the light…
it’s sometimes gray
green or brown and sometimes pearly white.

The book goes on to inform readers, briefly, about other “camouflaged’ amphibians: the meadow frog, arum frog, the horn frog, cat-eyed tree frog, green toad, and salamander.

Frogs Sing Songs
Written by
Yvonne Winer
Illustrated by Tony Oliver

I can’t find my copy of Frogs Sing Songs at the moment—so here is a review of the book from Booklist:

From Booklist - April 30, 2003
“This lyrical companion to Winer's Birds Build Nests (2001) makes a strong environmental statement about saving frogs, from Africa to the Artic. On each double-page spread, one of Winer's short, simple poems appears under a spot illustration of a frog. Opposite is a full-page, vivid, realistic watercolor illustration of that particular species in its natural habitat. Each of the poems begins with the refrain, "Frogs sing their songs," then the following four lines reveal beautiful details about that frog and the sounds it makes. The book closes with a two-page frog identification guide for each of the 15 species shown in the book, complete with physical descriptions of specific sounds, from an oxlike bellow to a baby rattle. Words and pictures celebrate the varied coloring and sounds and the amazing adaptability of frogs around the world; and children will celebrate the creatures, too.”

Be sure to check out Tricia’s post Leaping Into Books About Frogs (And Other Amphibians) for more book recommendations.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have a great poem by Sherman Alexie entitled Powwow at the End of the World.

Kelly Fineman has the Poetry Friday Roundup.


Tricia said...

I love your original poem, and that book list -- all I can say is WOW! I'm going to start blaming you when my husband asks where all my money is going I'll just have to tell him you are recommending so many great books I must have!

Thanks for pointing me to more great titles.

jama said...

Thanks for this fabulous post -- a real symphony of amphibians! Loved "Look at Us Now." Had no idea about the threat of extinction. So many good books here to dip into.

Elaine Magliaro said...


I was acually writing up another post for today when I read about The Year of the Frog at your blog. I figured I might as well leap into a post about frogs and toads and poetry.
I'm glad you liked my poem.


Thanks! I enjoy writing mask poems. I am a big fan of Douglas Florian's poetry. I also own dozens of books by Joanne Ryder--who writes a lot about nature.

Anonymous said...

I love your original poem, and the one about the frog in the well is so great-- rather like the one about 6 blind men and an elephant in some ways!

Anonymous said...

Whoa! I had no idea there was so much frog poetry out there.

I love yours and Sidman's especially.

Elaine Magliaro said...


I've loved that poem by Alice Schertle ever since I first read it in Paul Janeczko's book "Seeing the Blue Between." Yes, it is reminescent of that old fable. Have you read Ed Young's version of the tale "Seven Blind Mice?"


I hadn't realized there was so much poetry about amphibians either...until I went looking through my library. In fact, I had recently ordered "Marsh Music" to add to my poetry collection.