Tempus Fugit! City Dog Country Frog by Mo Willems and John Muth
CITY DOG DIDN'T STOP ON THE FIRST DAY IN THE COUNTRY. HE RAN AS FAR AND FAST AS HE COULD.
AND ALL WITHOUT A LEASH!
CITY DOG SPOTTED SOMETHING HE HAD NEVER SEEN, SITTING ON A ROCK. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" ASKED CITY DOG.
"WAITING FOR A FRIEND," REPLIED COUNTRY FROG. "BUT YOU'LL DO."
And do he does. It's a friendship made in heaven, and through the spring days Country Frog smiles broadly as he teaches City Dog to do all the froggy things--jumping, splashing, and sitting on rocks. City Dog's tail never stops wagging, and Frog learns to ride on the swimming Dog's head.
City Dog returns in summer, and he begins to teach Country Frog city dog games--sniffing, barking, and especially fetching sticks. Country Frog tosses and City Dog fetches. Country Frog keeps on smiling, and City Dog's tail never stops wagging as the two friends play all day, and when it rains, Country Frog shelters Dog under an umbrella leaf.
Then it is Fall, and City Dog returns to Frog's rock by the pond, hoping for dog or frog games.
"I AM A TIRED FROG," REPLIED COUNTRY FROG. "MAYBE WE CAN PLAY REMEMBERING GAMES."
Dog and Frog sit on their adjoining rocks and remember the jumping, and splashing and sniffing and barking and fetching games. And that is fall.
And then it is winter. When City Dog returns, there is snow everywhere, and ice covers the pond. Country Frog is not on his rock, and City Dog sits there alone, his tail down and still, as the cold wind blows over the lonely scene.
Spring returns, and with it City Dog, but Country Frog does not. City Dog is still alone on the rock. Then someone appears.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" ASKED COUNTRY CHIPMUNK.
"WAITING FOR A FRIEND," REPLIED CITY DOG SADLY.
THEN HE SMILED A FROGGY SMILE. "BUT YOU WILL DO."
Mo Willems, three-time Caldecott and two-time Geisel award winning author/illustrator, famed for his humorous urban cartoon-style stories, has written a different sort of story, teaming up with the Caldecott winner John Muth (Zen Shorts) to create a beautiful and moving story, elegant in its simplicity and depth, about the cycle of the seasons, the cycle of life, and the circle of friendship. Their product, City Dog, Country Frog (Hyperion, 2010), is a book which needs to be seen to be fully appreciated. Muth's watercolored illustrations are softly stunning, like the text simple and spare, yet fully evocative of each season, rendered alternately in the soft greens and pastels of spring, the lush deep colors of summer, and the more limited oranges and browns of fall (even Frog moving from his summer green to take on that autumnal shade), and finally the muted blues, grays, and lavenders of the snowy winter scene. Dog's tail, wagging or still, speaks volumes, as does Frog's happy grin when the two are together. It is a book which says more than does the text, the words and illustrations becoming one, yet augmenting each other in that form which comes together to make the perfect picture book.