When frogs suddenly vanish from a lake behind a village on the Northwest Coast, a nearby volcano awakens and an Indian girl is called to a dangerous adventure. Summoned to a spectacular world beneath the lake, the girl is questioned by "Grandmother" about the disapperance of her "children". Just who is this mysterious old woman? And what will happen if her children are not returned? What follows both answers-and deepens the mystery.
Careful attention is paid to historical detail both in the story and the vibrant illustrations. Frog Girl follows the rich mythic traditions of the Haida, Tlingit, and other Native peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast, whose stories often tell of individuals cast mysteriously into parallel worlds inhabited by animals in human form.
The story is easy to read aloud and the illustrations are riveting. I bought this for my three-year-old son, but find myself using it as a teaching tool in my second grade classroom, as well. It is very similar to a story my grandparents (Quinault-Cowlitz/Coast Salish) used to tell me when I was growing up. The message about taking care of all our relations is an important one. The story ignited a new interest in volcanoes and pond-life in my son's imagination. His interest in volcanoes and caves became so keen because of this book that we spent hours in the volcano exhibits at the Natural History Museum and made a special trip to Carlsbad Caverns! Bravo Paul Owen Lewis. ~Annie Nash
As in Storm Boy, Lewis tells an original tale based on elements of the mythology of Native peoples of the Pacific Northwest. A chief's daughter spots two boys trapping frogs near a lake. One frog, who is overlooked, takes her to a deserted village beneath the lake. There, the frog (now a girl) introduces her to Grandmother, who mourns the disappearance of her children and whose sadness causes a volcano to erupt. The girl returns to her home, frees the captives, and saves her village. Extensive background notes explain how authentic folklore motifs are woven into the story and artwork. For the most part, the story can stand alone, with the illustrations playing a large part in the narrative. Without the notes, though, readers may not know that the grandmother is not only Frog Woman, but also Volcano Woman. Still, the molten lava that flows in her great house and the way her grief somehow sets off the eruption convey the sense of the connection, if not the details. The matriarch's face is never shown, adding to the mysterious atmosphere. The artwork is splendid. Vivid green frog images adorn totem poles in the underwater world, injecting a sense of wonder into the magical journey beneath the lake. The bold, well-designed pages will carry well in a group setting, and the language is simple and spare, well suited for reading aloud.
~Steven Engelfried, West Linn Public Library, OR