Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hip-Pocket Papa

Sandra Markle
Picture Book (4-7)
Rating: 5

Deep in Australia’s temperate rainforest, December has been a very dry summer. Hip-Pocket Papa is the perfect picture book with a story of a male hip-pocket frog that is no bigger than a thumbnail. He and his mate have been guarding a dozen pearl-like eggs from possible predators. A centipede, no longer than a grain of rice, arrives looking for food. The dad, using his long tongue snags that centipede and swallows it whole – even though it was far bigger than he was. For three more days the two hip-pocket frogs take their turns guarding and feeding their tiny eggs. Finally, when the twelve eggs hatch, the female hip-pocket frog has done her job and leaves the rest to her partner. He will care for the little tadpoles, feeding himself, and protecting his young until they are old enough to be on their own. One question is how will he protect the little tadpoles? Why is he called ‘hip-pocket’ papa?

Science is such a difficult subject to introduce to young readers. Authors have to decide how much information is enough, or how much is too much. Sandra Markle has done a remarkable job introducing a type of frog that most readers, regardless of age, have probably never heard of. The information given is appropriate for the ages and for sharing. The illustrations are bright and engaging, and bring the text to life. There is so much for the young readers to see on the pages. At the end of the book more information is provided in the animal glossary, and the author has provided more resources at the back. Markle did an excellent job on this book. It should not be missed.

Debby Willett

Previously published in the August 2010 issue of the Christian Library Journal.

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