Morphing Murphy (Robert Favretto, illus by Tull Suwannakit, Ford Street)
Murphy is a happy tadpole, quite content with his life eating algae and rotting water plants all day. So happy that he wouldn’t change a thing … until he slowly but surely grows back legs, then front legs and eventually loses his tail. But he soon realises that life as a frog is good—he feels lighter, he can jump out of water, he can breathe air—so he’s happy and he wouldn’t change a thing. Soon enough though he starts to feel lonely—he’d actually like a change. And when a girl comes along and kisses him, things change again. This is a simple story of growth and transformation, with a gentle subversion of the old frog prince trope. Some readers might find the ending problematic, when the girl is unwittingly changed into a frog, but I think that would be reading too much into it—it’s meant to be a fun story, and it reads very well aloud. Tull Suwannakit’s illustrations are lovely—suitably watery and translucent, infusing much movement and humour into the morphing figure of Murphy. Two double-page spreads towards the end of the book are particularly memorable: Murphy leaping off a leaf into the cool green pond, and then Murphy, lonely, staring wistfully into the starry night. This is a sweet book, and would be good for children aged three to five.
Louise Pfanner is an author, illustrator and bookseller