No one can ever have too many picture books about smart girls who love science—or too many stories about big, loyal dogs. Still, a book with these elements needs other features to stand out, and Maggi and Milo delivers.
When a package with frog-hunting supplies arrives from her grandmother, bespectacled Maggi and her large canine companion Milo head out beyond “the edge of the world” to a nearby pond where, after waiting “a million minutes,” their patience is finally rewarded. As they collect more and more specimens, Maggi even remembers to assign gender-fair names to her newly found frogs. Finally, as evening approaches, the two friends share “a quiet, end-of-the-day kind of song” and look forward to more adventures to come.
Maggi’s enthusiasm is reflected in the exuberant lines of Priscilla Burris’ digitally created illustrations, and Milo’s perpetually wagging tail and lolling tongue add to the delightful effect.
As the day goes on, bold, bright colors give way to the murkier shades of dusk, while details in the illustrations, like Maggi’s frog slippers and Milo’s interest in a passing dragonfly, add even more visual interest. The occasional color-accented words (as when Maggi shouts, in big yellow and orange capital letters, “I am FROG HUNTER!”) provide helpful emphasis cues to guide read-alouds.
Watch for more fun, scientifically literate tales from debut picture book writer Juli Brenning, and don’t be surprised if young naturalists start asking for a frog book and a pair of blue waterproof boots of their own.
Jill Ratzan reviews for School Library Journal and works as a school librarian at a small independent school in New Jersey.