Pharaoh and the Fab­u­lous Frog Invasion

Osh­er Werner
  • Review
By – December 16, 2011
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.

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.

Discussion Questions