Froggy Went A-Courtin'

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
More a new tale told in pictures than an illustrated version of the familiar folk song--``Froggy went a-courtin', he did ride, / Sword and pistol by his side''--this is a hepped-up '30s gangster story of crime and punishment. Froggy courts the proprietress of Miss Mousie's Nightclub with the spoils from a bank robbery, but their wedding supper at Hollowtree (another after-hours joint) is cut short by Froggy's arrest by Officer Cat. In a modified ending, the criminal amphibian exchanges his zoot suits for prison stripes, and ``now he's doing seven to eleven.'' Song and illustrations here follow different paths, converging at some points (the wedding festivities) and diverging at others (as when the bank robbery is presented only visually). This fast-and-loose approach, though stylishly executed, may confuse children. With its dark, cartoon-style images, which resemble the work of film animator Ralph Bakshi, this jazzy debut venture may well find an appreciative audience among adults--aficionados of The Untouchables should love it . Ages 4-up. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-- O'Malley's abbreviated version of the Appalachian folk song of the same title is a sheer delight . Set in the era of gangsters and molls, this is the Bugsy of the animal kingdom. After robbing a bank, Froggy escapes in his 1930 Packard. Skillfully eluding the police, he roars away to Miss Mousie's establishment. She is the proprietor of an exclusive nightclub, and the Mae West of this story. Swinging her pearls, she glides towards Froggy in her ``velvet satin gown.'' As she gazes flirtatiously at him, Froggy unabashedly asks her to marry him. ``Without her Uncle Rat's consent, she couldn't marry the president.'' Uncle Rat gives his (forced) consent, and the couple sets off to a wedding supper at a gambling den complete with shady animal characters. There the cops catch up to Froggy, who ends up in the slammer. Children will appreciate the bold cartoon illustrations with cinematic closeups. The rhyming text is perfect for storytimes as are the larger illustrations. This is a book for those familiar with the song; they're sure to appreciate this new interpretation of it.-- Michelle M. Strazer, College of Lake County, Grayslake, IL
Stephanie Zvirin
The wages of sin are paid out to Froggy in this picture book rendition of an Appalachian folk song that may be less familiar to children than most songs given picture book life: "Froggy went a-courtin', he did ride, / Sword and pistol by his side. / He rode down to Miss Mousie's door, / Where he had often been before. . . ." O'Malley's bold interpretation further sets the song apart. It is by no means sunny and sweet. Set up as a Prohibition-era crime drama, it is a clever visual satire that begins with an old-fashioned car chase. Mustached, cigar-puffing Froggy has robbed a bank. Outrunning his pursuers, he finds Miss Mousie at her gambling casino, secures permission to marry her from reluctant Uncle Rat, and takes her to a speakeasy to celebrate. It's there the cat cops finally catch up. The words of the song are the only text. The dynamic pictures, full of unsavory characters gambling and swilling champagne, do the rest. Lots of kids will miss the historical allusion; they won't miss the message, though: CRIME DOESN'T PAY.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556702600
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/1992
  • Pages: 32

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 18, 2013

    The first time I encountered this book, I was a little appalled,

    The first time I encountered this book, I was a little appalled, and intrigued. The intrigue won and I ended up buying the book.
    Froggy has jumped from the swamp to the big city. So big is the city that, in fact, Froggy is a gangster. And Miss Mousy? She owns a speakeasy. If you go back to some of the earlier versions of this song, it turns out it is not such a big leap after all. Froggy does go riding with a sword and pistol by his side; certainly, that would presage violence. And in those earlier versions, the wedding party is devoured, so serving a seven to eleven year prison sentence seems quite mild.
    The illustrations are fantastic. I love Kevin O'Malley's take on the verse where Miss Mousy sits and cards and spins -- he doesn't portray wool -- he shows a deck of cards and a roulette wheel. Very clever interpretation. Have I read it to my toddler son, yet? Um, no. But I will when he's old enough to understand irony.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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