This is the 1998 winner of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award:
George, Kristine O’Connell. 1997. The Great Frog Race and Other Poems. New York: Clarion.
Here is a Digital Trailer for THE GREAT FROG RACE created by graduate student Elizabeth Richardson and available at YouTube here.
Here is a Readers' Guide for THE GREAT FROG RACE created by graduate student Misty Dawson.
This is a collection of poems about the purpose of nature. The poems are elegantly written and you can almost feel the fluttering curtains and the silky skirts rustling away in the poem Spring Wind. These poems take you back to the simple lazy days of youth. The poem Garden Hose inspires the reader to dream big as the simple garden hose imagines what he will be when he grows up. The illustrations are detailed and life-like integrating themselves into the text. They draw you in and you can visualize the ghost children swinging and the chains clanking against the poles in the poem Ghost Children.
*1997 Lee Bennet Hopkins Poetry Award
*NCTE Notable Book in Language Arts
*American Bestsellers Pick of the List
*Children’s Book of the Year, Bank Street College
*New York Public Library-100 titles for reading and sharing
*A School Library Journal Best book of Year
*Society of Illustrators Original Art Show
*Critics Choice U. S. News and World Report
*Starred review, School Library Journal: Readers will easily find favorites here…for personal enjoyment, reading aloud, and for encouraging children in the writing of poetry, this offering has lots of uses.
*Starred review, Booklist: Both the picture-book format and the poetry in this collection are wonderfully enticing.
1. The title of this book is The Great Frog Race and Other Poems. What do you think the poems in this book are going to be about?
2. Look at the cover of the book. Does this remind you of anything? Does the title remind you of anything?
3. What kind of animals or objects do you find on a farm or out in the country? What does living in the country make you think of?
4. Have you ever run a great race? What was it like?
1. Read "Garden Hose" aloud and discuss what the hose wants to be when he grows up. As a class brainstorm ideas of what the kids want to be when they grow up then let them extend by writing and illustrating what they want to be.
2. Read the poem "The Great Frog Race" aloud and discuss text to self connections. What does that make you think about? Does this poem remind you of anything?
3. Read aloud the poem "Music" and discuss how it makes them feel? How the child felt in the poem? Let them experiment with different musical items and make their own music.
FOLLOW UP ACTIVITIES
Read the following poems aloud to the class, "Garden Hose," "Metal Bucket," and "Egg." Discuss how the author brought these items to life. Have several items available for the students to observe, stapler, scissors, crayons, pencil sharpeners, etc. Break students into pairs or groups and have them write and illustrate a poem about one of the objects, then make it into a class book.
Talk about different types of frogs and show some examples or read nonfiction book to the students. Let the children divide up into groups and choose a type of frog. Let them research the frogs and give a report to the class. After presenting research you can have them put their information together to make their own nonfiction book and teach them the different characteristics of a non fiction book.
Discuss and research frog habitats with the class. Then you can grow your own tadpoles in the classroom. Students can observe and record the metamorphic changes that occur in the life cycle. They can also illustrate the life cycle and write about each stage.
RELATED WEB SITES
Nature Poetry Books
Old Elm Speaks: Tree Poems by Kristine O’Connell George
Creatures of Earth, Sea, and Sky by Kristine O’Connell George
Hummingbird Nest: A Journal of Poems by Kristine O’Connell George
Color Me a Rhyme: Nature Poems For Young People by Jane Yolen
The Tree That Time Built: A Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination by Mary Ann Hoberman
Nonfiction Frog Books
Frogs and Toads and Tadpoles Too by Allan Fowler
All About Frogs by Jim Arnosky
From Tadpole to Frog by David Evelyn Stewart
Would You Rather Be A Pollywog: All About Pond Life by Bonnie Worth
Fiction Frog Books
A Prince Among Frogs by E.D. Baker
If You Hopped Like A Frog by David Schwartz and James Warhol
A Frog in the Bog by Karma Wilson and Joan Rankin
The Frog Wore Red Suspenders by Jack Prelutsky
Too Many Frogs by Sandy Asher
The Frog Prince by Jessica Stockham
Here is another readers' guide for The Great Frog Race created by David Anderson.
George, Kristine O’Connell. 1997. The Great Frog Race and Other Poems. Ill. by Kate Kiesler. Introduction by Myra Cohn Livingston. New York, Clarion Books.
Recommended age levels 6-12
This book contains 28 poems on the sights and experiences of a rural childhood. They deal with such simple pleasures as observing tadpoles and waterbugs, water fights, sniffing the fall air, and watching migratory geese as they pass overhead. There is a subtle progression through the seasons, from spring at the beginning of the book to winter at the end. The book boasts an introduction by noted children’s poet and anthologist Myra Cohn Livingston.
Kiesler’s illustrations are done in a realistic manner using traditional oil painting techniques. The muted, warm colors and soft-focus quality of the pictures suits the contemplative tone of most of the poems.
What may seem initially like a simple exercise in pretty nostalgia is actually a celebration of the joys of observing and experiencing the natural world. The poems encourage the reader to stop for a moment and look for the beauty in the everyday environment.
*International Reading Association Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award
*Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award
*NCTE Notable Children’s Book in Language Arts
*American Booksellers Pick of the Lists
*School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
*Publisher’s Weekly: “This first collection of poems by George is a loving appreciation of some of the countryside’s greatest treasures…and a celebration of a child’s view of the world.”
*Booklist starred review: “Both the picture-book format and the poetry in this collection are wonderfully enticing.”
Questions to Ask Before Reading
Imagine you lived on a farm. What sorts of things would you be able to see or do there?
What is your favorite season of the year—spring, summer, fall, or winter? What do you like about that time of year?
Do you ever close your eyes when you’re outside or when it’s raining and just listen and feel and smell everything around you? Is it sometimes easier to notice other things when you close your eyes?
Suggestions for Reading Aloud
“The Great Frog Race”—Read the poem aloud and have the class say “Ready—set—go!” and imitate the frogs croaking “Blurk. Blurk. Blurk.” in the appropriate places.
“Quiddling with Words”—Invite volunteers to read the words Perforate, Ricochet, and Quiddle in the appropriate spots as you read the poem aloud.
“September”—Have each of the children sharpen a pencil. Then read “September,” which likens the smell of autumn to that of freshly sharpened pencils.
Several poems in the book (“Meadow,” “Morning Grasses,” and “Winter Swing”) are haiku. Explain the haiku form—three lines with 5-7-5 syllables, usually on the subject of an observation from nature—and invite each student to create a haiku.
Another poem (“Egg”) is an example of a concrete poem that takes the shape of its subject or is otherwise arranged to suggest something about the subject. Explain concrete poetry and invite each student to create a concrete poem.
The poems in the book are set mainly on a farm during the different seasons. Have students look at how farm life revolves around seasonal cycles of planting, livestock management, and work. For an historical emphasis, encourage them to think about how these cycles were especially important in earlier times when communities were more isolated and lacked most of the machinery used today.
The poem “Canada Geese” describes watching migratory geese flying overhead. Use this opportunity to talk to children about the seasonal migration of geese and other birds with which they may be familiar. Collaborate with a state park or wildlife officer or other available expert to make a presentation on migratory birds.
Related Web Sites
Kristine O’Connell Goerge’s web site
This site contains a teacher’s guide for the book with several writing exercises.
KidZone Poetry Projects site
Look here for poetry-writing exercises, including haiku worksheets.
George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary site
Look under School Programs>Free Website Teacher Resource>Books, Lesson Plans & Activity Sheets for downloadable resources on birds and migration studies.
Other Poems by Kristine O’Connell George
George, Kristine O’Connell. 2005. Fold Me a Poem. Ill. by Lauren Stringer. Harcourt.
George, Kristine O’Connell. 1998. Old Elm Tree Speaks. Ill. by Kate Kiesler. Clarion Books.
George, Kristine O’Connell. 2001. Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems. Ill. by Kate Kiesler. Clarion Books.
Other Collections of Poetry on Farm Life and Nature
Beck, Carolyn. 2008. Buttercup’s Lovely Day. Ill. by Andrea Beck. Orca Book Publishers.
Blackaby, Susan. 2010. Nest, Nook, & Cranny. Ill. by Jamie Hogan. Charlesbridge.
Gottfried, Maya and Zakanitch, Robert Rahway. 2010. Our Farm: by the Animals of Farm Sanctuary. Alfred A. Knopf.
Hoce, Charley. 2005. Beyond Old MacDonald: Funny Poems from Down on the Farm. Ill. by Eugenie Fernandez. Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
Rosen, Michael J. 2009. The Cookoo’s Haiku: and Other Birding Poems. Ill. by Stan Fellows. Candlewick Press.
Other Poetry Collections
Driscoll, Michael. 2003. A Child’s Introduction to Poetry: Listen While You Learn About the Magic Words That Have Moved Mountains, Won Battles and Made Us Laugh and Cry. Ill. by Meredith Hamilton. Black Dog & Leventhal.
Grandits, John. 2007. Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems. Clarion Books.
Janeczko, Paul B. and Lewis, J. Patrick. 2006. Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku. Ill. by Tricia Tusa. Little, Brown.
Other Books about Farms and Farm Life
Michelson, Richard. 2007. Tuttle’s Red Barn: the Story of America’s Oldest Family Farm. Ill. by Mary Azarian. G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
Peterson, Chris. 2006. Fantastic Farm Machines. Boyd Mills Press.
Rosen, Michael. 2008. Our Farm: Four Seasons With Five Kids on One Family’s Farm. Darby Creek Publishing.