Lessons From Frog & Toad

Lessons From Frog & Toad

Every person has a favorite childhood book. The family-loving Berenstain Bears or the sweet-slowness of Franklin the Turtle reminds readers of the woodland smell of Little Golden Books in their elementary school libraries. Simple stories preach profound truths about the world, ensuring emotional support during unforeseen circumstances of life (even in childhood). For me, Frog & Toad was this said book. 

Among lists of great literary friendships, Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad ought to sit at the top. Classically odd-coupled, Frog is a lean bright green, and a good head taller than the dirt-brown Toad. Frog is buoyant, optimistic and creatively flexible when things go awry. Toad, on the other hand, is melancholic, stumped and often angry.

The foil of Frog & Toad is timeless. Think Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street or the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. One lean and spry, the other round and lumbering. The combination is a solid formula for many different plot-lines. The standout difference between these more single-purposed examples and Frog & Toad is Lobel. 

Lobel was a quiet, inside-himself man. As a child, he would frequently spend time alone, either hiding from those who would bully him or telling stories to his class when prompted. When Frog and Toad touched larger audiences, Lobel was surprised by his success. Yet, the four books released were a great hit.

Lobel’s books, to me and many others, hold a magnifying glass to minute moments. Stories as small as losing a button, waiting for mail, and going for a swim help remind us to slow down and enjoy “…the comfort of crackers and milk” as Lobel liked to put it. It’s a longing to hold a moment in one’s hands. In a world full of noise, we lose sight of what to hold tight in our lives.

Hoping you’ll find your own meaning, here are two insightful stories:


Story #1: “Alone” 

One day when Toad visits Frog’s house, he sees a note informing him that Frog wants to spend the day alone. Toad doesn’t understand why he would want to do such a thing, and determines it is because Frog is upset with him. When Toad finds him, Frog explains that being alone gives him time to appreciate their friendship: “But Toad,” said Frog. “I am very happy. This morning when I woke up I felt good because the sun was shining. I felt good because I was a frog. And I felt good because I have you as a friend. I wanted to be alone. I wanted to think about how fine everything is.” “Oh,” said Toad. “I guess that is a very good reason for wanting to be alone.” “Now,” said Frog, “I will be glad not to be alone. Let’s eat lunch.”

Story #2: “The Surprise”

When Frog and Toad wake up, their lawns are covered in leaves. They each decide to go over to the other’s house and rake each other’s leaves. They both work very hard to clean up their friend’s lawn, but on their way home, unbeknownst to Toad or Frog, a windstorm blows through town, erasing all of their efforts. When Frog and Toad return home, there is no evidence of their friend’s labor, but they both go to bed happy, thinking about how happy the other will be to find his lawn tidied for him. The story is cute and sweet on its own, but it opens the door to a number of philosophical quandaries.