Simon James has a prolific track record when it comes to children’s stories with messages about taking care of the environment, some more subtle than others. Two notables are 1991’s Sally and the Limpet, in which the titular character pulls a limpet from a rock and gets it hopelessly stuck on her finger, and Dear Greenpeace from the following year about a whale that ends up in the garden pond of a little girl called Emily, and her subsequent correspondence with Greenpeace about her efforts to take care of it – even though they clearly don’t believe her. His latest offering, Frog and Beaver, refers to more domestic environments, and also teaches important lessons about being considerate of one’s neighbours – but, as with the two aforementioned titles, the story is told in a fun and engaging way.
Frog lives by a river with some ducks and water voles. Their peaceful, harmonious existence is disrupted when Beaver moves in and decides to build a dam. He is determined that it will be the biggest, strongest dam ever, but unfortunately it causes the rest of the river to dry up, eventually leaving Frog and his friends with nowhere to swim. Frog tries to reason with Beaver, who is more or less oblivious to the predicament he has left his new neighbours in, and suggests somewhat insensitively that the others should move further upstream. This leaves Frog in a predicament – while he gets along well with Beaver, he and the others have been left homeless by the inadvertent selfishness of the latter’s ambition. However, pride proves to come very much before a fall for Beaver – but will the other animals feel inclined to show him any sympathy?
The story, already well enough told in its own right, is further brought to life by the colourful and detailed illustrations, in James’ distinctive style – drawn with a dip pen before being filled in with vivid watercolour. Frog and Beaver is a solid work from a well-established name in children’s writing.
All images courtesy of Walker Books, who have published Frog and Beaver by Simon James.
Frog and Beaver is out now, published by Walker Books. For further information about the author and his other works, click here.