In this retelling of a classic story, a crow mocks an old frog for moving slowly along the seashore and challenges him to a race. The frog assures him he will win and he gathers together all the other frogs to enlist their help.
Although this picture book was published in 2002, its story – a lovely, lively retelling of the Hare and the Hedgehog by Brothers Grimm – is timeless. In place of a hare and a hedgehog, Walter Bgoya’s version features a crow and an old frog. The Crow mocks the Frog for moving so slowly along the seashore and challenges him to a race. The Frog is determined to win and gathers together all the other frogs to enlist their help. A heated debate ensues, but one of the group – a young female frog (yay!) – has a suggestion to make. More arguments follow, but eventually the old frogs realise that her idea is a winner.
I won’t ruin the rest of the story by going into huge detail about the race. Suffice it to say that the frogs work together beautifully as a team. They are an entertaining bunch too, leaping around the page, and tucked under fronds and leaves, with eyes gleaming and mouths grinning in Christine Steinberg-Mund’s colourful illustrations. The Crow doesn’t stand a chance. He beats his wings as hard as he can but, to his surprise, the Frog is always ahead of him!
There is plenty to admire in this small 18-page paperback – lively storytelling, colourful illustrations and a dash of humour. But as well as being an entertaining read, The Story of the Crow and the Frog also reminds us that intelligence – and teamwork – can be a match for speed & strength, that the young can be wise, and that we should treat each other with respect. Fine lessons indeed, bound up in a timeless story for all to enjoy.
The Story of the Crow and the Frog by Walter Bgoya, illustrated by Christine Steinberg-Mund (Mkuki na Nyota, 2002)
Walter Bgoya is a publisher, children’s author and human rights activist from Tanzania. In 1991, he founded the independent publishing company Mkuki na Nyota, which publishes books in English and Swahili. He is a founding member of the African Books Collective and the African Publishers Network.
Christine Steinberg-Mund studied illustration in Germany. She spent 7 years in Egypt and then 14 years in Tanzania, where she taught at the Universities of Dar-Es-Salaam and Njumba Ya Sanaa. She is now based in Cyprus.
The Story of the Crow and the Frog was a White Ravens selection in 2004. I purchased my copy from African Books Collective, an African-owned marketing and distribution collective for books from Africa.