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Tadpole's Promise

by Jeanne Willis
Illustrated by Tony Ross

Published by Atheneum, 2005
28 pages
ISBN: 0689865244

Ages 5-10

It’s love at first sight when a tadpole and a caterpillar meet. They adore everything about each other. “ ‘Promise you’ll never change,’ “ begs the caterpillar. And—rather shortsightedly—the tadpole promises. Of course, change is inevitable. First the tadpole grows legs, and then arms, and finally, he loses his tail. With each transformation, the caterpillar grows angrier and angrier at her beloved’s betrayal, finally stalking off to a willow branch to sulk. When she awakens later, she’s undergone a change herself—she’s now a butterfly. Realizing she still cares for the tadpole, she flies off in search of her love, only to meet up with a frog (formerly her tadpole). She approaches to ask if he’s seen her tadpole, but in mid-sentence, the frog leaps up and swallows her down in one gulp. The totally unexpected climax leaves most readers stunned, and then laughing as they appreciate the cynical and hilarious departure from the anticipated lesson about eternal friendship. Tony Ross’s clever design orients the book spine up, and uses the gutter as the boundary between water and sky. Visual clues hint that this is not a match made in heaven long before the text’s dramatic demonstration of a food chain in action. CCBC Category: Picture Books for School-Aged Children.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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