- Being Frog by April Pulley Sayre
Sayre, April Pulley Being Frog; written and illus. with photographs by April Pulley Sayre. Beach Lane/Simon, 2020 [32p] Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-5344-2881-2 $17.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-5344-2882-9 $10.99 Reviewed from galleys R* 4-10 yrs
This photoessay melds scientific discipline, poetic imagination, and beautifully executed visual storytelling in a celebration of the pleasure of wildlife observation. Spare, lyrical verse accompanies engrossing photographs of frogs going about their business under Sayre's camera lens, and the audience is tacitly invited to share her musings. The veteran science writer documents the expected: "A frog must hunt./ It scans. It spies./ It crawls. It lunges./ It fails. Retries" as three shots of the frog creeping, leaping, and coming down empty-handed stretch across a double-page spread. Then Sayre the poet takes over. "It kicks and surfaces./ Its eyeballs gaze./ Does it remember/ tadpole days?" opens a sequence with a pensively posed frog leading into a four-panel spread on egg-to-tadpole development. A thoughtful author's note further explores the boundaries between scientific knowns and imaginative speculation ("Wondering and imagining are part of science too. They help a scientist come up with creative questions"), citing a provocative study that suggests that hornworms could be trained to carry memory from caterpillar stage into adulthood. Text and illustrations are accessible to the youngest viewers, but this is also a fine springboard for older children to discuss anthropomorphism embedded in literature and in life, and it's a natural meeting ground for science and language arts collaboration.