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Frog and the Birdsong by Max Velthuijs
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Frog and the Birdsong

by Max Velthuijs

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Celebrated Dutch children's author and artist Max Velthuijs, who was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Award for his illustrations, in 2004, returns to the world of his ranine hero in this second installment of his Frog series, originally published as Kikker en het vogeltje. When Frog comes across the still, cold body of a blackbird in the clearing, he isn't sure what to make of it, consulting with his friends Pig (who thinks the bird is asleep) and Duck (who imagines that he is ill), before Hare clears up the mystery, and reveals the truth: the bird has died. Answering Frog's question - "Dead... What's that?" - as best he can, Hare organizes his friends into a burial detail. But although the four companions mourn the loss of the blackbird, with his lovely song, they are still alive, and life is beautiful...

A gentle introduction to the sometimes thorny topic of death, for very young children, Frog and the Birdsong doesn't attempt to offer any definitive answers - death is something that happens to everyone, Hare informs the friends, but that is about as detailed as it gets - concentrating instead on the experiences of those left behind, from their discovery of their loss, through the rituals attached to caring for the dead, and the aftermath of the funeral, in which life (and even joy) reassert themselves. I think this approach provides comfort and reassurance, in an oblique, non-didactic way. When paired with Velthuijs' lovely artwork, the result is a book well worth reading, for young children (and their care-givers) who are confronting mortality for the first time. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Apr 11, 2013 |
Frog finds a dead bird, but he doesn't know what death is, so his friend Hare explains to Frog and the other animals what dead is. The animals remember the lovely song of the blackbird during a funeral service they conduct. ( )
  madhamster | Oct 17, 2008 |
We realised this was about death only when we'd got it home and sat down to read it. But actually, this is a calm, composed and admirably neutral look at dying which is probably worthwhile reading for kids of two or three years.

Best bit is where Hare, when asked "what is death?" points mysteriously skywards without elucidating. ( )
  yarb | Feb 11, 2008 |
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Frog deals with another rite of passage after he finds a dead bird. Friend Pig thinks the bird is asleep, Duck wonders whether it's ill, but Hare explains: "Everything dies." The four bury the bird, remember his lovely song--then go on to a happy afternoon celebrating life. The evening song of another blackbird confirms the message: life goes on. The quiet blend of curiosity, respect, and joy in Velthuijs's text is enhanced by the simplicity of his bright, beautifully designed art.
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After carefully burying a dead blackbird, Frog and his friends realize that though life ends it is still wonderful to be alive.

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