Oi, Frog! This book’s fantastic!

posted in: Jim Field, Kes Gray | 13

oifrog Lots of fabulous books are being published today (such as this one and another one I really like;this one) but Oi Frog! by Kes Gray, illustrated by Jim Field is the one that has jumped up and down and begged to be shared with you right now, without delay. It’s got cheek, energy and zany rhymes, and it’s the first book I’ve read this year which I think is a serious contender for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize.

We all know, from the very first books we ever read, that the Cat sits on the mat and the Frog sits on the log. This is part of the overarching World Order that must be in place to stop society descending into chaos.

Oi Frog! is narrated by a rather supercilious Cat, one of the World Order’s Heavies. He knows everyone’s place, and the place for everyone. Mules sit on stools. Parrots sit on carrots. And foxes sit on boxes. That’s just the way it is. End of.

But Frog… well he is brave enough to question authority: He does not want to sit on a log.

And this INFURIATES Cat.

Will Frog survive Cat’s laying down of the law? Well… (sucking my teeth and shaking my head), I would tell you, but I know my place (Zoes sit on Joeys) and I’m not risking Cat’s wrath descending on me. No way.

Jim Field (a past winner of the Roald Dahl Funny prize – so he has form…) has created a cast of enormously characterful animals with some of the most expressive eyeballs and eyebrows in town. Vibrantly coloured pages exude zing and vitality. The anarchy captured in his illustrations (what sort of crazy world is it where puffins sit on muffins or snakes sit on cakes?) contrasts wickedly with Cat’s determination to keep things utterly orderly.

Gray’s text is bold and brassy. Kids will love predicting what’s coming next, and both teachers and learner readers will enjoy the chance to play and delight in language much more than they can by only following the rules of phonics.

A devilishly delightful cautionary tale told with aplomb, illustrated with exuberance, I really do adore Oi Frog!.

And as is always a good sign, within seconds of finishing our first shared reading of Oi Frog! we were raiding our craft supplies inspired. One paper bag, a few pipecleaners, and two pingpong balls later we had our own adorable, if anxious frog:


Look! Look! Do you see what Frog is sitting on?!


While making our frog stand in silly poses, and whilst pretending to be frogs ourselves we hopped around to:

  • A Rare Bog, A Rattlin’ Bog by Wally Whyton. You can listen for free here on MySpace.
  • Frog in the Bog by Jim Cosgrove
  • Frog Trouble by Mark Lanegan
  • And a couple of songs from dear old Kermit…

    Apart from making your own frog toy you could also try these activities alongside reading Oi Frog!:

  • Making your own rhyming poetry using the template [animal] [verb] [preposition] [rhyming noun] eg Gerbils love to eat furballs, ants love to eat pants, or Woodlice sleep on ice, bears sleep on chairs. Here’s an online rhyming dictionary you could use if you get stuck.
  • Using this book as a starting point to explore more serious beliefs about order in the world. You could discuss what rules there are in society, why they are there, and when/if it is appropriate to break them.
  • Creating a balancing game. Gather together plastic animals (representing those in the book) and toy objects (matching the places where animals have to sit). Try to balance the animals on the right objects. You could see how many you could balance in a set amount of time.

  • Who are your favourite fictional frogs? One of my very earliest reading memories is of dear old Flippy the Frog.

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of Oi Frog! from the publishers.

    13 Responses

    1. linda sarah

      Zoe, you and your amazing fellow artists are incredible – what a gorgeous, brilliant frog – I love this review and want to read this anarchic, wonderful book right now (and make my own frog of course :-). As always, I come away from your blog grinning hugely and utterly inspired!
      linda sarah recently posted..violin coming from somewhere up there

    2. Donna McKinnon

      Oi! LOVE IT! And I love your garden frog (and the green grass which I won’t see for another couple of months.)One of my all-time favourite illustrations of a frog is from The Frog Prince Continued by Jon Scieszka and Steve Johnson. The frog is so bored, he’s licking the wallpaper. You know, you can’t go wrong with frogs in picture books…most of the time. Oi Frog must come home with me!
      Donna McKinnon recently posted..Henny

    3. WendyLady@GoodBooks

      This book looks like it would be lots of fun, and your paper bag froggie is adorable! My 15-month old grandson loves frogs (thanks to Mercer Mayer’s wordless classic: “Frog, Where Are You?”). We’ll have to add “Oi Frog” to our library – I hope it’ll come out in the U.S.

    4. Zoe

      Thank you everyone for the comments. This is such a fun book.
      Thanks Donna for your tip, and Catherine… well you’ll just have to find a copy of the book 😉 If I reveal the end the Joeys will sit on me.
      Wendy, thanks for the Mayer tip. I do wonder if Oi Frog will travel stateside – I guess it might have to be slightly “translated” – have just been having a conversation on twitter with US friends about “Oi”. Perhaps it would become “Yo Frog!” 😉
      Zoe recently posted..Oi, Frog! This book’s fantastic!

    5. The Book Tree

      Wow, you take book reviews to a whole other level! I love how you get your kids involved – will keep an eye out for your reviews as I compile my own.

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