Title: Cheery: The True Adventures of a Chiricahua Leopard Frog
Author: Elizabeth W. Davidson
Illustrator: Michael Hagelberg
Publisher: Five Star Publications
Cheery is a Chiricahua Leopard Frog who starts his adventures as a tiny tadpole. In the beginning, everything is wonderful. Cheery eats algae with all his brothers and sisters, and listens to the tales of Wise Old Frog. But one day, a new threat emerges in Cheery’s world. A bullfrog and a crayfish appear in his pond, even though they’re not supposed to be there. The Leopard frogs get sick, and some of Cheery’s friends are eaten by the bullfrog and crayfish. But one day, a truck pulls up and sweeps Cheery, Wise Old Frog, and the other survivors off to a new pond in the zoo while they clean up Cheery’s home. In the end, Cheery is returned to his pond and lives happily ever after.
The messages behind the story is very clear, yet presented in ways that kids can understand. The first message is about conversation. Cheery’s species is in danger of vanishing from the Earth. In fact, many amphibians are on the decline. Giving children a character that they can relate to helps them understand why it is so important to preserve nature and its many species. The second message helps children understand why it’s not safe to introduce a strange animal to an ecosystem. While it may not seem like a big deal to release a bull frog into the pond, that species didn’t belong there and caused devastation. Nature has already decided which species belong where, and when you mess with that, you create an imbalance.
The illustrations are gorgeous and really add dimension to the story. After Cheery’s tale ends, the author includes an article about the decline of the Chiricahua Leopard frog and other amphibians, along with a really helpful curriculum guide for teachers and parents. Activities include discussing the ramifications of putting something into an environment when it doesn’t belong there, using clay to recreate the life cycle of a frog, and looking up more information about the Leopard frog online (complete with links). This is a wonderful book that would make a welcome addition to your child’s library.
Note- I received a free copy of this book for evaluation purposes. My opinions are my own.