Joshua the Giant Frog

Joshua the Giant Frog

by Cat Smith, Peggy Thomas, Cat Bowman Smith
     
 

"From the moment the first boat floated down the Erie Canal, people living along its banks have told strange stories. It was as if mixing the waters of the Hudson and the Erie made mysterious things happen." -- Joshua the Giant Frog

An astonishing feat of engineering and human labor, the Erie Canal had enormous impact on New York and the rest of America after it

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Overview

"From the moment the first boat floated down the Erie Canal, people living along its banks have told strange stories. It was as if mixing the waters of the Hudson and the Erie made mysterious things happen." -- Joshua the Giant Frog

An astonishing feat of engineering and human labor, the Erie Canal had enormous impact on New York and the rest of America after it opened to great fanfare in 1825. In Joshua the Giant Frog, the town of Empeyville sits alongside this modern wonder, which, due to a recent drought, is nothing more than a wet rag lying across the state. A line of barges stranded between the cities of Syracuse and Rome has been stuck all summer, and no amount of mules or oxen can move them. However, thanks to the ingenuity of young Red McCarthy, the boats are hauled all the way to Albany, pulled by his amiable amphibian friend, Joshua.

This turn-of-the-century tall tale shows that even a giant frog can be friendly and helpful, when given a purpose and embraced in a spirit of collaboration and community. The townspeople of Empeyville have plenty of work for Joshua, and he is happy to oblige, since every day ends with swimming and playing in the local pond. Amusing illustrations depict small-town life in nineteenth-century upstate New York, and history hops ahead in this Americana tribute to hard work, teamwork, and resourcefulness.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Young Red McCarthy knows he has got something unusual when he goes to the Erie Canal to get fishing bait and pulls out a tadpole as big as his fist. Sure enough, when the tadpole escapes into the pond, the frog (soon named Joshua) grows as big as a house, subsisting on a diet of not-so-small animals. At first, the townsfolk are scared of Joshua—not to mention annoyed by his nocturnal croaking—but soon enterprising Red enlists Joshua for all sorts of civic projects, from relocating marooned barges to pulling stubborn tree stumps to filling in for the tuba in the community band. Joshua's bound to leave his mark on Empeyville before leaving the Erie Canal to go on to even bigger and better things. Joshua's story, while bearing many of the hallmarks of classic tall tales, is merely inspired by the many fantastic animal stories the author learned during her childhood in Buffalo, New York. The text is reminiscent of folk tales without being folksy, and the illustrations convey an old-fashioned feeling. Unfortunately, the sketchy, cartoonish watercolor paintings, particularly the images of Joshua, sometimes lack depth, even if there is humor to be found in the details of village life and the havoc that Joshua wreaks. 2005, Pelican, Ages 3 to 6.
—Norah Piehl
School Library Journal
K-Gr 5-A wraparound cover of a huge, green frog jumping across the Erie Canal invites readers into this tall tale. Young Red McCarthy can not believe his eyes when he catches a polliwog bigger than his fist. The tadpole grows so large that when he jumps, the earth shakes. When he hops into the pond, basements flood. His croaking keeps the people of Empeyville awake all night. Finally, they hold a meeting and agree that Joshua has to go. But then Red announces that this gigantic frog could move the barges that are stuck in the canal because of the dry summer. Folks are skeptical, but the next day, Joshua hauls the boats to Albany and deepens the canal at the same time. Red's great-grandson says that his windows shake even today from the sound of Joshua's croaking coming from it. Smith's sketchy, cartoonlike illustrations in soft browns and greens depict rustic life, Joshua, and the results of his actions. Scenes of Rolf Rinehart repairing his outhouse for the fourth time and Joshua's croaking toppling the church steeple are particularly funny. A wonderful read-aloud.-Linda Staskus, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Parma, OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Red McCarthy finds a giant polliwog in the waters of the Erie Canal and tries to bring it home. However, the polliwog escapes into the pond and takes up residence. When it grows, it becomes a giant frog that drives the townspeople crazy with its earthquake-like jumps, its garden-drowning splashes and its sleep-disturbing garrumphs. But as with most tales of this sort, before the town can get rid of it, Joshua becomes a hero. He moves barges down the canal, from Rome to Syracuse, when the lack of water strands their movement. After that, Joshua helps by dragging lumber, pulling stumps and moving rocks and a boulder the size of a barn. He celebrates with the town's band and pulls the dangerous curves on Snake Hill Road into a straight line. Readers may have difficulty suspending their belief system long enough to enjoy this awkwardly shaped tale, but Smith's realistically executed watercolors depicting the giant frog and his helpful nature may just carry it off. (Picture book/folktale. 4-8)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781589802674
Publisher:
Pelican Publishing Company, Incorporated
Publication date:
02/15/2005
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.40(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Ms. Smith lives in Pittsford, New York, with her pup Daisy. She received a Bachelor of Fine Art degree from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1961. She was an editorial illustrator for Rochester Gannett newspapers, and taught illustration at R.I.T. She has been drawing since she could hold a pencil in her hand and has been illustrating trade books since
1985.

Peggy Thomas is fascinated by the world around her. Growing up outside Buffalo, New York, she and her brother, illustrator Paul Facklam, did not have to wish too hard for snow, but the weather inspired them to create Snow Dance, so that every child could enjoy a snow day. Mrs. Thomas received a masterís degree in anthropology from the State University of New York and is a member of the Society of Children's Book writers and Illustrators.

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