The Frog and His Friends Save Humanity / La rana y sus amigos salvan a la humanidad
by Víctor Villaseñor
Illustrations by José Ramirez
Spanish translation by Edna Ochoa
Publication Date: February 28, 2009
Imprint: Piñata Books
Trim Size: 8 ½ x 11
Victor Villaseñor’s acclaimed picture book is now available in a paperback format.Look Inside
It’s the Spring of Creation, and all of the animals are busy doing what they do best. There was no confusion. But suddenly, a strange, furless, shell-less creature appears in their midst and the animals are mystified by the strange being. The bear knew that this creature would not be as strong, the deer knew it would not be as fast, and even the grasshopper knew it was not going to hop and screech like him.
What follows is a raucous debate about what to do with the helpless being. Eat the creature? Defend the creature? Leave it to fend for itself in the forest? The fate of humanity rests in the paws and wings of the animal community.
Acclaimed author Victor Villaseñor returns, once again, to capture a traditional children’s tale for a new generation. In fresh, colloquial prose Villaseñor’s second children’s book echoes the oral tradition, as he recalls a story that his mother told him as a child. Brought to life by bold illustrations, this playful fable celebrates the relationship between humans and the animals in the natural world.
Recipient, 2006 Skipping Stones Honor Award
“In the spring of creation, the animals are suddenly confused by the appearance of a new creature. The tiny thing looks useless, though it is certainly cute when it smiles and funny when it farts. After debating whether to eat it, let it die, or help it survive, the animals decide to help it, hoping that it will someday become something useful and beautiful. After all, says the turtle, “Mother Nature does not make mistakes.” Villaseñor, who recalls being told this creation myth by his father, dedicates this version to the people of Oaxaca, Mexico. Ramirez adds life to the tale with vibrant, stylized illustrations and swirling backgrounds of brilliant colors, which echo pre-Columbian motifs and Mexican folk-art forms. The text is primarily dialogue, and the English and Spanish, which are similarly paced, offer great opportunities for reading alone or dramatizing as a play.”
“Written in the spirit of a creation myth, this story recounts an early time when Mother Nature decides to send the first human infant to join her other creatures on Earth. At first the animals are repulsed and intrigued by the small, skinless, helpless creature–the frog tickles its soft belly, which elicits a loud fart. Through their laughter, the bear, the snake, the turtle, the frog, the armadillo, and the skunk can’t help but wonder what purpose this seemingly defenseless creature can possibly serve. Has Mother Nature made a terrible mistake? As the animals discuss and debate the relative merits of eating the new creature versus protecting it, the baby continues to delight with his farts and giggles. Finally, catching sight of a beautiful pair of butterflies, the animals decide that Mother Nature does not make mistakes and that this creature, too, will eventually turn into something useful and beautiful…The dark, swirling illustrations, done in a symbolic, indigenous style, are fascinating…”
—School Library Journal
VICTOR VILLASEÑOR is a writer whose works have brought Mexican-American culture and literature to a wide audience. The Los Angeles Times compared his first novel, Macho! (Arte Público Press, 1973, 2003), to the best work of John Steinbeck. He is the author of the highly acclaimed best-sellers Burro Genius: A Memoir (Rayo, 2004); Rain of Gold (Arte Público Press, 1991), which details the saga of his family’s immigration to the U.S. from Mexico; and Thirteen Senses: A Memoir (Rayo, 2002). His other non-fiction works include Wild Steps of Heaven (Delta Books, 1995), Jury: The People vs. Juan Corona (Little Brown and Company, 1976), and the screenplay for the award-winning film, The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez. He has written several books for children based on indigenous tales told to him by his parents and grandparents, including Goodnight, Papito Dios / Buenas noches, Papito Dios (Piñata Books, 2007),The Stranger and the Red Rooster / El forastero y el gallo rojo (2006), Little Crow to the Rescue / El Cuervito al rescate (2005), The Frog and His Friends Save Humanity / La rana y sus amigos salvan a la humanidad (2005) and Mother Fox and Don Coyote / Mamá Zorra y Don Coyote (Piñata Books, 2004). Walking Stars (Piñata Books, 1992, 2003), his empowering collection of stories for young adults, is also available in Spanish as Estrellas peregrinas (Piñata Books, 2005). Villaseñor also wrote his memoir, Crazy Loco Love (Arte Público Press, 2008), a powerful portrait of a young boy on the path to manhood in the shadow of his influential father. Villaseñor lives in Oceanside, California, where he continues to write.
JOSÉ RAMÍREZ is the illustrator of the award-winning book, Quinito’s Neighborhood / El vecindario de Quinito (Children’s Book Press, 2005), and Goodnight, Papito Dios / Buenas noches, Papito Dios (Piñata Books, 2007).
Accelerated Reader Quiz #106972
ATOS English: 4.3
ATOS Spanish: 4.1
ATOS Interest Level: Lower Grades