The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone

The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone

The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone (Candlewick, 2003)

by Timothy Basil Ering

I have a feeling this is one of those books that you either adore to hyperbolic proportions or is completely off your radar. 

I’m in the hyperbolic proportions camp, but it’s still a book I forget about. And then when I remember, I wonder how I forgot?!

So this is an origin story, one that starts in Cementland and ends in gritty beauty.The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone by Timothy Basil Ering

The first spread is so perfect. A wide shot of Cementland, described as a dull, gray, endless place. A boy, arms open and striped in red, stands at your attention in the midst of all that gray. All of the lines and the stress and the mess lead you right to him.

This red-striped fellow believes treasure hides among the heaps of junk in Cementland, and in a triumphant moment finds a box bursting with color. Bright colored packages, but filled only with tiny gray specks.The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone by Timothy Basil EringHundreds of them. Not wondrous riches.

He plants anyway. And after two or three minutes, nothing happens.

While he’s gone, thieves root and loot the plot. So this boy–this treasure hunter, gathers smelly socks, scraggly wires, and of course, a crown, and dubs his creation Frog Belly Rat Bone, the monster who will protect the specks. 

They are a duo with a mission and a patched together friendship that pays big rewards.The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone by Timothy Basil Ering 

That’s why Timothy Basil Ering’s use of texture is the only possibility for this type of storytelling. The art is the story. It’s stitched up. It’s not slick. It’s piled up and layered and cobbled together just like Frog Belly Rat Bone himself.The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone by Timothy Basil EringThere’s warmth in the mess and intention in the scatter. It’s as beautiful as that treasure that the red-striped boy finds. And creates.The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone by Timothy Basil Eringbreaker

“…[W]hen I first made the dummy book for Frog Belly Rat Bone, naturally, I beat up some wood and sewed it all together. It gave it that nostalgic, cobbled-together look that’s just plain interesting to me. I wanted it to look like it was made the same way the little boy in the story makes Frog Belly, with just raw hand-stitching and splashes of paint.”

(That’s from here, which is a great read!)

It’s definitely one I want to share early in the year with our fourth graders who are the school’s expert gardeners. It would pair well with The Curious Garden (for obvious reasons) but also classic unlikely friendship stories. Isn’t a trash-made monster-thing with picky underwear a pretty unlikely friend? I’m thinking about Amos and Boris and Leonardo the Terrible Monster.The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone by Timothy Basil Ering

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Giveaway Update: Thanks for playing! I’ve picked the winners, but I’m going to wait until my order comes in from the bookstore to share the spoils. We had to special order a few titles. Did you know your local indie will do that for you?! And then you get to go back. Stay tuned!

We Believe in Picture Books

Have you seen Candlewick’s yearlong celebration, We Believe in Picture Books? Here’s my friend Julie Falatko, who has an eye and heart for fantastic picture books and writes ones that are ridiculously offbeat but perfectly in tune.

And her kids are four of my favorite strangers on the planet.

Right?

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And speaking of Candlewick, my Twitter friend Anne Moore Armstrong (@childbookart) sent me the FRENCH version of Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back. I think you can imagine my reaction. MonChapeau!

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One more thing. Remember Raymond McGrath and his AMAZING music video for his book, It’s Not a Monster, It’s Me!?

It’s a FINALIST in the New Zealand Children’s Music Video Awards!

How great is that? Excited for you, Raymond! Thanks for sharing your unreal talent with us.

And thanks to the rest of you, for going with the flow this summer. Things have been bananas in the best way possible. Did you catch my Twitter and Facebook screaming about signing with an agent?

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But in actual, physical, real books, my FAVORITE 2013 book is coming up soon, and I can’t wait to share it. Let’s talk design again!

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Robot Zombie Frankenstein!

by Annette Simon

I am kookoo crazy bonkers for this book. Like, we’re talking nuts.

When I opened this book at the Candlewick Booth at ALA this summer and saw THOSE ENDPAPERS, I did this move: slam the book shut, say ‘no.way.’ about a billion times, and make my eyeballs about five times their normal size. True story. {You can probably ask Dianne de Las Casas, although at the time I think she was ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the lovely Tammi Sauer‘s Princess In Training!}

Anyway.

I love this book. I love its unpredictability, its wacky pace, and its larger than life robots who have larger than life imaginations.

{And its author, Annette Simon — I love her, too!}

And I love, love, love the smorgasbord of shapes. Even the shape of the book itself is a big blocky square. Well, maybe it’s a slightly squished rectangle.

I’m not busting out the ruler on a holiday weekend!

You can’t tell me that his expression isn’t absolutely hysterical, can you?!

Remember those endpapers? They are a breakdown of all of the various robot parts. So brilliant. You could make this: (!!!!!!)

(image from this fun post!)

And I don’t want to give away the ending, but there’s a treat involved that makes this book an extra special read this tasty time of year. Read this book. Prepare for a zany adventure. Make that robot above, too!

P.S. — A huge heart shaped thank you to Candlewick for sending me this book. All thoughts are still my own. 

AND!

Speaking of robots — congratulations to LAURA S.! Did you win the Boy + Bot giveaway? AFFIRMATIVE! Email me your address, and these goodies will hit the road!