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Children's LiteratureYoung 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.