“Pokko and the Drum”
By Matthew Forsythe
(children’s picture book, 2019)
Pokko is a little frog who lives inside a mushroom with her parents. She simply loves adventure and excitement. Pokko’s parents, on the other hand, prefer a more modest existence. “We don’t like drawing attention to ourselves,” says her father. Mama and Papa Frog prefer quiet and predictability.
Mama and Papa Frog love to give gifts. Unfortunately, Pokko’s joie de vivre can turn well-meaning gifts into “mistakes,” as Papa calls them. There was the pet llama that nearly squashed Mr. and Mrs. Frog. There was the slingshot, which was certainly NOT used according to the manufacturers’ directions. Now, imagine how Mama and Papa feel about Pokko’s new bass drum and its steady beat-beat-beat reverberating through their tiny mushroom house!
Pokko’s parents attempt to keep chaos at bay by sending Pokko outside to play her drum. Other forest animals, hearing the sound, grab their own instruments and form a parade behind Pokko. There’s an incident with a hungry wolf, which leads to a rule against eating fellow band members. Eventually, the band makes its way back to the Frog family’s mushroom home, where Mama and Papa Frog get (literally) swept up by the joyful cacophony. It’s then that they realize how much they appreciate little Pokko’s musical gifts, as well as her outgoing personality.
This is a simple, tender story with gorgeous illustrations from author, illustrator, and comic book artist Matthew Forsythe. A sweet sense of humor runs throughout the tale, and will register with both parents and young readers. There are lessons about the importance of community and being yourself. Best of all, Mr. and Mrs. Frog learn to appreciate that their daughter marches to the beat of her own drum. Perhaps granting children a bit of independence is not a “mistake” at all.
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Faithe Miller Lakowicz