“A well-meaning agenda without the mastery of an engaging story.”
Dylan is about to start attending a new school and really wants something new and super cool . . . and finally lands on a pair of purple boots covered with poison dart frogs. They make him feel “cool and smart. Taller, even.” That is, until he proudly sticks his feet in the center for Circle Time and is met by the laughter of his classmates, who have deemed his boots to be “girl boots.” The boots that have brought embarrassment instead of instant popularity are relegated to the closet until Dylan remembers that he really does love poison dart frogs and that his boots used to make him feel really awesome, at which point they gradually work their way back into his life—first on weekends and then finally to school again, where validation from a new friend, Jeremy, allows Dylan to walk tall. While the message that certain colors need not be relegated to the realm of either just boys or just girls is a positive one, Frog Boots feels more like an agenda in story form than a story in its own right. The final resolution, where Dylan’s confidence is bolstered by Jeremy, has the potential for engendering warm fuzzies, until it’s hampered by Jeremiah’s long laughter, which feels directed at the antagonistic girl, seemingly encouraging meeting bullying with bullying. The illustrations are simple, with fun paint effects (particularly in the hair).
There’s only one thing Dylan wants: frog boots! But what happens when this little boy discovers they’re meant for . . . girls?
School shopping is no fun for Dylan—until he spots a pair of boots decorated with poison-dart frogs. They’re so cool that he even wears them to bed, where he discovers they glow in the dark! He can’t wait to wear them to class. But before he can show them off in circle time, a kid exclaims: “Ms. Kory, that boy’s wearing girl boots.” And, suddenly, when everyone’s laughing at him, the boots don’t seem so wonderful anymore. Will he ever want to wear them again? A timely story about embracing what you love, staying true to yourself, and defying stereotypes.
Dylan just wants on really cool thing for school. If you could only get one cool thing for school, what would it be?
Dylan’s classmates are quick to point, laugh and make fun of him. How does that make him feel? Which classmates shows positive interest in Dylan’s boots? What are some things to remember that can help you be kind in similar situations?
Jill Esbaum is the author of many award-winning picture books and has also written 20+ nonfiction books for National Geographic. She visits schools as often as possible and enjoys teaching writing across the country. She is the creator and administrator of a group picture book blog, www.picturebookbuilders.com
Jill grew up in small-town Iowa. She LOVED everything about school and spent her free time creating comic strips, trying to get kittens to follow her home, and playing Barbie beauty pageant with the neighbor girls. One of her favorite possessions was the mini flashlight that illuminated post-bedtime, undercover reading marathons with Nancy Drew.
Joshua Heinsz is a children’s book illustrator. He has a love for bright and whimsical imagery with a flair for the fantastical and an air of nostalgia. When not drawing and painting, Joshua can be found working as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. He currently lives in Chicago.
For my kindergarten friends
For Irene and Alex for being as fabulous as a pair of frog boots