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Children's LiteratureThis title from the "Brand New Readers" series by Candlewick Press, is delightfully different from many other books aimed at the beginning reader. First, the 40-page picture book actually contains not one, but four funny stories about two aquatic friends—Fish and Frog. Fish and Frog share a brightly-colored pond and a lot of common interests, such as swimming, making faces, jumping and playing games. These kid-friend activities and the theme of friendship is the stuff of many successful stories for beginning readers, and it works well here, too. But the thing that really sets this book apart from many such step-into-reading titles is the inclusion of introductory text for each story, meant to be read aloud by a grownup to the child prior to reading the story itself. The introduction is a summary of the story to come, and allows a child to look through the pictures together with parent or teacher so that they can see what happens in the story prior to reading the words or listening to the words being read. The large, easy-to-read type and 3- to 5-word sentences make it easy to place a finger under each word as it is read or spoken. The bold, simple illustrations in Caribbean colors make it easy to follow action and emotional expression. The 5-inch by 8-inch trim size is perfect for small hands to hold. The binding is sturdy and will certainly stand up to repeated readings. This full-color, hardcover book would be a valuable addition to any home, school or library collection. 2005, Candlewick Press, Ages 4 to 6.