Ellen G. Cole, a retired librarian of the Levine Library of Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles, is a past judge of the Sydney Taylor Book Awards and a past chairperson of that committee. She is a co-author of the AJL guide, Excellence in Jewish Children’s Literature. Ellen is the recipient of two major awards for contribution to Judaic Librarianship, the Fanny Goldstein Merit Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries and the Dorothy Schroeder Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries of Southern California. She is on the board of AJLSC.
Pharaoh and the Fabulous Frog Invasion
Midrashim inspire this silly romp in rhyme offering arcane Passover lore. The story is told by three different voices: a narrator, the frogs, and the Egyptians. Readers discover the second plague and the actions of God, Moses, Aaron, Pharaoh, the Nile River, and of course, the eponymous frogs. The frogs intend to improve the first, failed plague of water turning to blood. According to Midrash, a giant frog comes out of the Nile and calls countless thousands of other frogs to invade Egypt and convince the Pharaoh to free the enslaved Hebrews. These frogs hop everywhere including (per Midrash again), into burning ovens. When Pharaoh agrees to let the Hebrews go, Moses prays to God and the frogs die, except for the ones that jump back out of the ovens, a miracle wrought by God. Pharaoh goes back on his word for eight more plagues (mentioned by number, not listed by name). When at last he frees the Hebrews, Moses and Aaron go, but the frogs stay in Egypt to sing of the wondrous ways of God. This is a strange version of plague two, featuring more frogs than deity or man. The rhyme and meter are uneven, but the pace is swift; readers can hop through the fun like the frogs. The colorful, cartoon art matches the spirit of the story and tracks the text as it illustrates the action. For ages 4 – 7.
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