Events have made it hard for me to write my blog recently. Nothing dramatic – just work, life, work, life and work and life. But the brilliant Oi Frog! and the sequel, Oi Dog!, purchased recently as a pair, have spurred me back into action.
Oi Frog! all starts from a wonderfully absurd premise; a pompous, stick-to-the-rules cat and a rebellious, rule-busting frog arguing about what animals should or should not sit on. Cat – yellow-eyed, condescending, severe – tells frog to sit on a log. Frog doesn’t want to – he wants to sit on a mat, or a stool, or even a sofa. But, no. Mats are for cats, stools are for mules and sofas – oh so clever, this one – are for gophers.
And on they go, cat and frog bickering their way back and forth through ever more inventive and preposterous couplets, brought to life by brilliant illustrations of gorillas perched on pillars and pumas balanced on satsumas. The first books ends with a delightful image of poor frog being sat on by a dog…which leads perfectly into the second book Oi Dog! where, this time, frog is in charge and re-writes the rules and gets to sit where he likes.
The words are crafted with care and are infinitely more interesting than many other word-by-numbers rhyming couplet books. The quirky, playful images of the animals are ingenious – each one with slightly baffled expressions as they find themselves perched in ever more ludicrous situations. The ape sat on a pile of grapes, each cheek stuffed with fruit is a favourite, as is the elephant with a knotted trunk to avoid the whiff of a skunk (in the book, elephant rhymes with smelly pants – it doesn’t quite scan as a rhyme, but works brilliantly for this very reason, forcing the reader to bend the words slightly so they fit together).
Oi Frog! and Oi Dog! are two almost perfectly-formed books, ideal for my giggly four year old. Highly recommended.