1-4 yrs.
Available in Spanish?

The Wide-Mouthed Frog

By Keith Faulkner, Illustrated by Jonathan Lambert
Dial Books


This is a playful and clever book popping and exploding with surprises that will guarantee giggles and gasps! Attention-grabbing is an understatement! Each page features a different animal with an exaggerated 3-D or pop-up mouth or snout.  And by exaggerated, I mean that these are the biggest pop-up pages you will ever see. Don’t believe me?  How about an alligator snout that extends from the page about 12 inches?  See, I told you! It’s as if the illustrator made his own competition of Let’s See Who Can Make the Best Pop-Ups Ever. If your little one doesn’t particularly enjoy books, I promise you that this is one book he won’t ignore!

So besides the obvious fantastic pop-ups, what else does this book have going for it? The illustrations are beautiful and artistic. Each picture is painted with a slightly abstract quality to it.  The style is not unlike that of Eric Carle’s illustrations for its brushstrokes and the way the animals jump off a glossy plain white background. Each animal is a focus on every page; there is no distracting background scenery. I also love the expressive eyes of each animal- the playful wink of the frog at the beginning, hinting that he’s up to something (which he is!), the fierce stare of the alligator, etc… ; they tell so much of the story!

The text is simple and repetitive, encouraging your little one to remember and recite along with you (this would work well as group activity too).  Through this story, young readers can begin to learn what various animals eat, thus a perfect story for doing science/nature extension activities.  Oh, and for such a fun book, of course the story has to be funny, too.  There’s a joke at the end the reader must figure out (wonderful for fostering inferring skills), but I’ll leave that as a surprise.  After all, that’s what this book is all about!

For it’s price, I do wish this book were a little longer. I bought it for around $11, but it’s sticker price is $14.99.  With it’s exploding pop-ups you certainly are getting a lot of bang for your buck though, literally!

Also, this is no board book. The pages are thick, but still flimsy, thus easier for your little one to rip.  And because the pop-ups are so appealing, they’ll be irresistible for your tot to rip and grab, so make sure you keep the book about an arm’s length away from your child as you read.

Because of its more fragile pages and easily grabbable pop-ups (all pop-ups are grabbable I suppose, but this one is just a little more than the others- remember the 12 inch snout I told you about?), I would not recommend this book for infants.  Plus, the text is wordier than the text in infant books. I’ve already made the mistake of reading it to my ten month old, and though he loved the pop-ups as any baby would, it was a little too over-stimulating for him.  The mouse now only has whiskers on one side of his face and the frog’s lips are terribly cracked. Also, I think when books become too much of a toy and when the text is completely lost on a child, perhaps it’s best to wait when he can understand the story a little more.

Though exciting and entertaining for sure, is this book really worth the money?  My feeling is that there are a lot of great pop-ups books out there and your child won’t know what he’s missing if he doesn’t have this one.  And though the illustrations here are beautiful and more sophisticated than those in most infant/toddler books, they do not teach as much as other books do.  As opposed to a book like Pop-Up Peekaboo Farm, from one little book my son can learn to count, learn various animal names and the sounds they make, learn prepositions, and learn to ask simple questions.  The Wide-Mouthed Frog simply doesn’t offer that much education in a little package.  Put simply, this book is all about fun and entertainment– the book version of giving your child a big piece of candy (not a bad thing)– but just remember that the initial surprise and exciting first impression can quickly wane. On the other hand, if you don’t mind spending a little extra money, this would be a great book to  take down from the shelf only occasionally so you and your little one can continue to relive the initial excitement this book offers. There simply is no other pop-up book quite like this one!

Reviewed by Daniela

Book image via amazon.com

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