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I’m a Hop Hop Hoppity Frog

by Lawrence Northey, Julie Northey, illus.

I love to hop,/It’s hard to stop!/I’m a hop hop hoppity frog.”So goes the opening stanza of a rhyming picture book about a little frog who can’t sit still and hops all day long, leaving his parents exhausted. He has to be put to bed more than once before he finally falls asleep.

Although B.C. artist Lawrence Northey originally recorded the text as a song, it seems to lack the melodic rhythm and cadence of music. In places the rhyme is forced, and the phrase “I’m a hop hop hoppity frog” is repeated 11 times in a poem that’s about 40 lines long. Even though kids love repetition, that’s a lot of it.

The drawings by Julie Northey – the author’s wife, who’s an animator and greeting card illustrator – lack sophistication. The colour palette jars and the cartoon-like frogs are reminiscent of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The backgrounds are busy and one-dimensional. Spot art has been used in a haphazard way, creating the feeling of little coherent design to the pages.

The publicity material for the book suggests that it’s “the perfect bedtime read for the child who’s just not ready for bed.” However, the forced, choppy, unstructured rhyme combined with the intensely coloured illustrations seem more likely to rile children than calm them.