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City Dog, Country Frog

Last updated Friday, April 1, 2011

Author: Mo Willems
Date of Publication: 2010
ISBN: 1423103009
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Feb. 2011

Synopsis: Spare, poignant, and ultimately upbeat, this 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. In "spring," City Dog runs free in the countryside for the first time ever and discovers an unfamiliar creature perched on a rock. Asked, "What are you doing?" Country Frog smiles and replies, "Waiting for a friend…but you'll do." The two play Country Frog games ("jumping and splashing and croaking") and when reunited in "summer," they enjoy City Dog pastimes ("sniffing and fetching and barking"). In "fall," Country Frog is tired, so the friends spend their time remembering. When City Dog arrives again in "winter," Country Frog is nowhere to be found (a wordless spread shows the pooch sitting on the rock, looking small and forlorn against a stark winterscape). In "spring again," a sad-looking City Dog befriends another critter with a familiar line, and then beams "a froggy smile" (shown in close-up, this warmly illustrated grin guarantees that Country Frog will not be forgotten). Making expert use of color and texture, Muth's expressive paintings clearly convey the tale's emotional nuances. This understated picture book allows plenty of room for young readers to interpret the animals' feelings for themselves and perhaps discuss their own emotions.—Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  On the opening page what season do you see?
•  What is the difference between:
•  City Dog and a Country Dog
•  Country Frog and a City Frog
•  Can you name the seasons of the year?
•  Have you ever been to the country?
•  What did you see there?

Vocabulary Selection:
•  CROAKING -- to utter a low-pitched, harsh cry, as the sound of a frog or a raven. To speak with a low, rasping voice.
•  FETCHING -- to go and bring back; return with; get: to go up a hill to fetch a pail of water. To cause to come; bring: to fetch a doctor. To go and bring things.
•  ADMIRED -- to regard with wonder, pleasure, or approval. To regard with wonder or surprise (usually used ironically or sarcastically): I admire your audacity.
•  COUNTRY -- a territory distinguished by its people, culture, language, geography, etc. The part of the land that is away from cities or industrial areas; rural districts.

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Does anyone have a friend who is totally different from you?
•  Has anyone ever seen snow?
•  What kind of things can you do in the snow?
•  Have you ever had a friend who moved away?
•  How did you feel?
•  Have you ever moved to a new area and left all your friends behind?
•  How did you feel?
•  How did you go about making new friends?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw a picture board of all four seasons
•  Make a Paper Bag Frog

Special activities:
•  Leap Frog

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!