The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone
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The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone

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by Timothy Basil Ering

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"FROG BELLY . . . plants the idea that with some strategy, good communication and goodwill, you can grow wonderful things." —PORTLAND PRESS HERALD

"Frog Belly Rat Bone,
one, two, three . . .
the specks in the earth are protected by me.
You must be patient and then you will see. . . ."

Once upon a time, in a dull, gray


"FROG BELLY . . . plants the idea that with some strategy, good communication and goodwill, you can grow wonderful things." —PORTLAND PRESS HERALD

"Frog Belly Rat Bone,
one, two, three . . .
the specks in the earth are protected by me.
You must be patient and then you will see. . . ."

Once upon a time, in a dull, gray endless place called Cementland,
there lived a very special boy who wished to find a treasure. After much searching among piles of greasy toaster ovens and wet smelly socks, he spies a box filled with specks and a wrinkled note that says, "Put these wondrous riches in the earth and enjoy." Horrified to learn that thieves are after his treasure, the boy scrounges the junkyard and conjures a creature to stand guard - a scarecrowlike gardener with crooked bony arms, a giant belly, a jaunty crown, and preternatural wisdom: Frog Belly Rat Bone, king and protector of the specks.

With subtle, delicate tones, fantastical figures, and bursts of glowing color, the surreal artwork and hand-lettered text of Tim Ering’s picture book debut exude all the whimsy of an inspired imagination - and the wonders of a natural world that awaits discovery, even in Cementland.

Included with each book: a whimsical full-color bookmark offering a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the artist, his technique - and his inspiration!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Quirky illustrations belie a conventional plot in Ering's debut, about a stick-figure boy living in "a dull, gray, endless place called Cementland." Among rusty, dripping pipes and poured-concrete slabs of beige and blue, the boy finds "greasy toaster ovens, broken TVs, and wet smelly socks. But no treasure." One day, he discovers a copper-green trunk packed with colorful envelopes and cryptic instructions: "Put my wondrous riches into the earth and enjoy." He opens an envelope and puts the contents-"hundreds of tiny gray specks"-into the ground. Then, "he gathered those wet smelly socks. He found moldy pillow stuffing and scraggly wires. He patched, buttoned, sewed, and zipped." His bulging creation, a benevolent and distended talking scarecrow named Frog Belly Rat Bone, guards the specks from a rabbit, rat and fruit fly. In time, Cementland blooms with flowers and vegetables, and the junkyard of soupy grays yields to an explosion of color. Ering loads the pages with expressive smears, splatters, squiggles and kinky lines, and the book's matte, embossed cover emphasizes the tactile quality of his art. Yet despite its edgy-looking visuals and scratchy hand-lettered text, this allegory is as overstuffed with sentiment as Frog Belly himself. It advises patience in sowing the seeds of change, but takes a naïve, idealizing view of childhood and delivers a message in place of a story. Ages 4-7. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Shrieking "Parable!" at every page turn, this takes its design concept from another, arguably more lasting parable. Featuring an embossed cover with faux-stitching up the side that uneasily recalls Boris Karloff’s makeup job from Frankenstein, this wildly self-conscious offering presents the story of an unnamed boy who wanders the reaches of Cementland. This boy is very special--resembling nothing so much as a red-and-white-striped trashcan with stick arms and legs, he roams in search of treasure. One day he finds "a strange and wonderful box. Attached to the box was a wrinkled note, which said, ‘Put my wondrous riches into the earth and enjoy.’ " Predictably enough, when the boy sprinkles the riches--tiny gray specks contained within many brightly colored packets--into the earth, mysterious robbers come overnight and steal them. So the boy manufactures a living scarecrow of wire, old socks, and underwear and dubs it Frog Belly Rat Bone. Together the boy and Frog Belly Rat Bone make friends with the three potential robbers, a rat, a rabbit, and a fruit fly, and win them over to the mysteries of gardening. Smeary full-bleed gray-green acrylics modulate to smeary red-orange-pink acrylics as the "wondrous treasure" sprouts until "Cementland is filled with colors now!" Over-designed, overburdened, overbearing nod to easy environmentalism aimed directly at the Grandma market. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.18(w) x 10.08(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Timothy Basil Ering says that THE STORY OF FROG BELLY RAT BONE was inspired by a visit to Descanso Gardens, a botanical garden in Pasadena, California, where there is a private garden for urban Los Angeles schoolchildren. "For as long as I can remember, I have loved to mix up words and phrases into silly little combinations that would make me laugh," he explains. "I’d make up songs while meandering down the outer beach of Cape Cod to favorite fishing spots, and ‘Frog Belly Rat Bone’ was always a favorite string of nouns. Then one day in Pasadena, I sat at a tiny picnic table in the children’s garden and began to sketch the garden’s scarecrow. I knew at that moment that Frog Belly Rat Bone had found a home." Timothy Basil Ering’s artwork has appeared in books, magazines, theater sets, private murals, and fine art galleries. A resident of Somerville, Massachusetts, he is enamored of the sea and has a passion for nature and the outdoors. This is his first picture book with Candlewick Press.

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Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has become one of mine and my children's favorites. The illustrations are wonderful and the story fun, but educational. I also read this to my third grade students, which inspired a great discussion about planting and conservation.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one talented Illustrator and Author ! My kids loved the book and anxiously await his next one ! You're the Best ERING ! Keep it going !
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a great read-aloud for young chldren, and my children and I love the silly word combination of the story's hero, Frog Belly. Critics, give Timothy Ering a chance! Sometimes art exists simply for its ability to delight. We are delighted with this title and will be anxious to see the next one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tim Ering's talent for not only illustrating but writing, is a breath of sunshine to this generation and those to follow. Thoroughly enjoyed every last word, every last picture. Expect to see much more of this exceptionally talented young man in the future. Phyl Magri
Guest More than 1 year ago
a innovative look at gardening that will inspire kids ! a great book that all kids will remember for thier lifetime ! frog belly legend is finally put to print !!!