The Secret of the Stone Frog
By David Nytra
Published 2012 by Toon Books
Siblings Leah and Alan awaken to find themselves in an enchanted world of talking animals and mysterious stone frogs. They must use their wits to find their way home.
This is the first older graphic novel from Toon Books, a publisher that has been bringing graphic novels to the early reader set with smashing success. I was really looking forward to this title because it looked mysterious and richly drawn and I wanted to see how they would do with a story for an older crowd. While I think the book works very well, it didn't personally appeal to me as much as I had hoped. The story is told with minimal text, focusing heavily on the striking and richly detailed images. The journey that the characters undertake reminded me of a lot of classic children's novels, such as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Though some elements of the novel might be a bit creepy or scary for younger children, I think overall there is nothing to prevent younger readers from enjoying the story. However, I think kids toward the upper range of beginning chapter books (2nd and 3rd grade) will get the most out of the story, as they will be more willing and likely to pore over the details of the illustrations and will have a bigger context for understanding the threats that Leah and Alan face. I don't know if this will appeal to the larger juvenile graphic novel audience, but young fantasy fans will enjoy it.