2 out of 4 stars
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Frog legs are a delicacy that I'm not interested in trying. However, in Julie Reathaford's book, Calamity Sam & the Great Frog Roundup, citizens are threatening to have frogs at the Annual Pig Roast if the amphibians don't get their population under control. It's therefore up to Calamity Sam to come up with a solution that will please both the citizens and the frog populace. Will Calamity Sam convince the Frog King to move to another area, or will frog legs be on the menu?
This book had a wonderful lesson of negotiation and compromise for its young readers. After Mayor Tom asked Calamity Sam to speak to the Frog King on the people's behalf, he went back to town to get the citizens to calm down and see reason. Meanwhile, Calamity Sam negotiated with the King. The ultimate solution to the problem made sense, and everyone ended up happy, which is the goal in compromising.
Sadly, I didn't really take to the main character. Calamity Sam was a little harsh in her way of speaking, but I think that was supposed to be a part of her personality since that's what comes to mind when seeing someone called "Calamity". The Frog King was also stubborn, but he had good reason to be. The pacing, though, was on-point and never felt either rushed or draggy.
It's also important that children's books have nice illustrations. The pictures in this tale were colorful and cute and took up their whole page, leaving the other pages for the text. My only complaint about the pictures was that Calamity Sam never changed clothes, even though the tale took place over at least three days. Additionally, when I saw the age group for this book (7-10 yrs), I thought the text would be sparse, leaving more room for pictures, but that was not the case. It was actually the opposite; the text was plentiful and more in keeping with a book for children on the higher end of that age range, if not slightly higher. The words used were also more complex than one would usually find in a book made for 2nd or 3rd-graders but make for a good opportunity to add to a reader's vocabulary. I'll also take this opportunity to note that the text was very small, and I had to try three methods of reading the .pdf before I could do so without squinting and getting a headache. This is definitely not a good thing for a children's book.
I did like the author's writing style though. It was very casual and sounded as if the author was actually orally telling the story rather than writing it. I could even picture Ms. Reathaford with a room full of children, captivated by her tale.
To me, the most important thing about a children's book is that the grammar be perfect so the young learn good writing habits while reading. That was definitely not the case here. I'd found the first ten errors before the third page. These mistakes were of every type possible, from misspellings to incorrect punctuation usage to the lack of apostrophes when showing possession, not to mention capitalization mistakes and extra spaces throughout the writing. In addition, there were fragments instead of sentences, run-on sentences, and sentences not ending when they should. One sentence that really had me shaking my head was as follows:
The Frog King is sitting on his throne made out of the palest green lily pads and being fanned by one of his smaller loyal subjects, every now and then he throws a bucket of pond water to keep the Frog Kings skin wet.
Even worse was the author's occasional failure to change paragraphs when changing speakers. Another formatting issue was found at the end of Chapter Two and beginning of Chapter Five, both of which consisted of only one paragraph. Rather than the paragraphs being placed at the tops of the pages, they were centered in the middle, making the pages look weird. The most egregious error, however, was in changing the tense of the story; the majority of the tale was written in present-tense, but there were large sections where the tense would suddenly jump to past before returning to present. Lastly - and this is minor compared to the other errors - Calamity Sam had a habit of dropping the 'g' at the end of verbs. I had no problem with that, but sometimes there was an apostrophe after the 'n' and sometimes not, thereby taking away from the consistency. I would very strongly urge the author to take this book to a professional editor for a deep scrubbing so it can come out a polished gem.
Due to the calamitous grammatical and formatting issues, I'm giving Calamity Sam & the Great Frog Roundup 2 out of 4 stars. I'm also not recommending that any children read this book until the grammar is brought up to speed. It may be okay, however, if adults just read the tale to their children or students without the youngsters reading along. Adults who are still children at heart and can overlook writing errors for 28 pages may also want to give this one a whirl.
Calamity Sam and the great Frog Roundup
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