While canine bestsellers are common, a bestseller with a frog character is rare. The picture book, CITY DOG, COUNTRY FROG by Mo Willems, with watercolors by Jon J. Muth, is currently No. 9 on the New York Times children’s book bestseller list.
The story is a simple one—a friendship blossoms between a dog visiting the country and a resident frog through spring, summer, and fall. When winter comes the dog searches for the frog, but can’t find him. And when spring comes around again, he realizes frog is gone. But country dog finds a new friend.
The story is something of a departure for Mo Willems, whose other books include the now classic Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! In an interview, Willems says that he realized that he needed to find another illustrator for this story—Muth’s paintings complement the spare, poignant story perfectly. City Dog’s expressions of curiosity, playfulness, sadness, happiness, and confusion are sweet and tender—and very dog-like. Country Frog is pretty expressive, too!
Here’s a bit from the School Library Journal starred review by Joy Fleishhacker:
…[T] his tale depicts the natural cycle of friendship from an enthusiastic first encounter to contented companionship to the heartbreak of loss and eventual emotional renewal. Presented with a comfortingly consistent narrative structure, the events are set against the backdrop of the changing seasons, reassuring readers that winter will turn again to spring, sadness to joy…
As summer ends and we approach the first fall holiday, Rosh Hashanah, this is a wonderful book for kids about the cycle of seasons, change and renewal, friendship, and the importance of people or animals no longer with us.