I have to let you into a secret. I love frogs. It runs in the family. My mum loved frogs and collected frog ornaments (or amassed a collection, since we used to give them to her). I have quite a few of those ornaments around my home. So when I saw Pibbin the Small was on offer*, possibly after a review by Mother Daughter Book Reviews, I jumped at the chance to get it.
What a charming book, in every way (except any wand waving). Pibbin is a tree frog in Friendship Bog. We follow him as he meets the other residents and explores his homeland. Very soon one of his friends meets with disaster. An encounter with a vehicle on Rumble Road has left the turtle in dire need of life-saving, or at least leg-saving, medicine. But most of Pibbin’s friends have other things they are busy with. Some would like to help but are unable, for various reasons, although they offer the help they can. Eventually Pibbin sets off in the company of Leeper, a bog frog, in search of the Doctor who has the medications that the turtle knows she needs. Of course, there are plenty of terrors he has to face before he arrives at his destination. Does he succeed in saving the turtle? You’ll have to read it to find out.
This chapter book is written for an age group slightly younger than those I usually read, but it is hugely enjoyable even from my advanced age. The characters are well-drawn, not only in words, by Gloria Repp, but also in very clever illustrations by Tim Davis. I went back through the book when I’d finished, looking at these in finer detail. They are wonderful drawings of the animals, with their motifs like Leeper’s cap and Pibbin’s backpack, but merged onto photographs of real locations, presumably the bogs and wild country where the stories are set. The result is exquisite and very effective**.
There are plenty of lessons to be drawn from Pibbin’s adventures, whether the value of friendship, bravery and different types of courage, or the range of animals that live in a given habitat and their interdependence. I was a bit worried about the description of the location of the north star, but it some areas it might work, as it is an accurate description of the north star if you can identify the Little Bear. Finding the Plough, or Great Bear, and using the ‘pointers’ is a more usual method in the UK, though, since it is one of the brightest and easiest of the constellations to find.
I was fully drawn into the book and suffered pangs of anxiety as the tale unfolded. It will surely delight young readers, and hopefully they will learn to love and treasure wildlife and wild spaces as much as I do.
An exciting and engrossing book for younger readers, it is the first in the Tales of Friendship Bog. I may well look for the next one, just to find out more about this wonderful community.
Pibbin the Small, by Gloria Repp
Part of the Kid Lit Blog Hop
*It appears to be permafree on Kindle
**I see there is a new edition on Amazon that is illustrated by Michael Swaim. I had a look inside it, and I’m afraid I don’t like the illustrations nearly as much. Clever illustrations, but they’ve lost the charm.