#495 – Geronimo the Frog by Matthew Stein & Taillefer Long

geronimo cover.

Geronimo the Frog

by Matthew Stein & Taillefer Long, illustrator

November 22, 2013

978-1-4825356-5-5

Age: 4 to 8    58 pages

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Back Cover

“How can a group of animal friends from the Bug Cypress Swamp in Florida defend their home from Bad Billy’s gang? Leave it to Geronimo, the little frog with a big mission. Geronimo rallies friends Echaswa the Raccoon, Koowe the panther, Kunu the Squirrel, Yube the Alligator, Obu the Owl, and many others to chase Bad Billy out of the swamp. But Bad Billy is a tough character, and has his own nasty plan to put a stop to Geronimo and his animal friends. Can Geronimo save Big Cypress Swamp?”

Opening

“Deep in the heart of the Big Cypress Swamp of Florida lives a brave frog. His real name is Kute, but everyone calls him Geronimo. This is his story.”

The Story

As a young frog, Kute would swim to the Seminole Indian camp and listen to the stories they told. He loved the tale of the brave Geronimo. Kute pretended to be Geronimo, even wearing a feather. He enjoyed climbing a tree then jumping in front of a sibling screaming “Geronimo!”  Soon, the other animals called Kute Geronimo, believing he was as fearless and brave as his namesake. Meanwhile, Bad Billy and gang held parties in the swamp leaving all sorts of trash scattered about the swamp, endangering the animals and the land.

Geronimo came up with a plan to scare the gang away. He and the others would hid in the woods. When Geronimo jumped out, screaming “Geronimo,” the other animals were to attack. Startled, Bad Billy and his gang ran out of the swamp. VICTORY! Well, for a while. Billy was not happy and wanted revenge. The Bad gang returned to the swamp and had a normally loud and trashy party. Geronimo and his friends were ready. Geronimo jumped. He yelled, “Geronimo!” The other animals began attacking, until . . . they saw Geronimo in a fishing net, captured by Billy Bad.

jump on sibs

What are the animals going to do without their hero? They needed to rescue Geronimo, but how? What is Billy Bad going to do with Geronimo? Oh, wow, what could the animals do?

Review

Geronimo the Frog’s main character is a muscular little frog. Geronimo learned from the Seminole Indians and became a wise, brave, hero. Everyone relies on him. I loved the early scene with Geronimo, still Kute, jumping on his siblings from above. Who hasn’t done this to their brother or sister? Many scenes are funny, such as Geronimo landing into a banana cream pie (though a key lime pie is a more Floridian pie, though not as messy as banana cream). I like that Bad Billy reacted with his own plan, adding more suspense to the story. Now the animals had to rescue their leader. In the end, Geronimo and his animal friends win the battle and how that happened is quite ingenious.

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The wonderful, and humorous, ending was unexpected, which is always good. The author also highlights a big problem in the animal kingdom and did so smoothly. This unexpected part of the ending raised Geronimo the Frog to a higher level. The author also made the story unique by giving each animal a Seminole Indian name, in honor of the Floridian natives. e.g. Ooeefuswa, the squirrel, Echaswa the raccoon, and Cesse the mouse. Unfortunately, the names can be difficult to pronounce.

I do think Geronimo the Frog is too wordy. With approximately 3000 words, the picture book runs nearly sixty pages. With some good editing aimed at discarding needless words, the story could be tighter and accessible to younger children. As the book is now, I think the age range is between seven and nine, not four to eight. Parents may not be willing to read to their child three times the average picture book in one sitting, especially at bedtime. Editing the narration will make a better story. I found myself skimming over two pages of narration, yet not missing a beat of the story.

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The illustrations are great. Most are on one page of the spread with the color covering the entire page. I like the look given to Geronimo. He is strong and able to accomplish most anything. Many of the illustrations reach across both pages of the spread, but not all. Those that do tend to have text over the characters.. Another reason for tighter editing.

I did enjoy Geronimo the Frog. I thought it imaginative and interesting. I loved the ending and the way it opens up a new dialogue for parents and kids. Teachers would like Geronimo the Frog if there were fewer words and could turn the pages faster, before losing students’ attention.

heron snagged by 6 pack

Mr. Stein’s Geronimo the Frog is his first children’s book. The story is imaginative, connects to the story’s location, has great illustrations, and a wonderful ending. I hope Mr. Stein works on editing and revising. I think doing so will make Geronimo the Frog focused and easier for the reader. I would love to read this new edition.

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Learn more about Geronimo the Frog HERE.

Buy Geronimo the Frog at AmazonB&N—publisher—ask your local bookstore

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Meet the author, Matthew Stein.     website     blog       twitter      goodreads        huffington post

Meet the illustrator, Taillefer Long.     website        goodreads        jacketflap       redbubble       illuminated stories

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GERONIMO THE FROG. Text copyright © 2013 by Matthew Stein. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Taillefer Long. Reproduced by permission of the author, Matthew Stein, North Charleston, SC.

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ALSO BY MATTHEW STEIN

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geronimo

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13 thoughts on “#495 – Geronimo the Frog by Matthew Stein & Taillefer Long

  1. Great review, Sue! You got me at 3000 words. I didn’t know picture books existed anymore at 3000 words. If I write something at 700 words everyone balks it’s too long. (So, sad on so many levels!) All that said, it sounds like a cute story. Love the idea of the frog hero in the swamp.

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    • Thanks! Yeah, I moaned when I first opened the book. I usually read picture books twice right before I review them. Imagine my smile when I realized I should have started this review sooner. But, though it needs a good edit, the story is really good and the ending is one of the best I have seen, but that could be the animal advocate in me. 🙂

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  2. I guess I grew up with longer kids books, like Beatrice Potter (which I adored when my grandmother read them to me) and Dr Seuss, so apologies for not sticking to the more modern formula of less words… (The Author)

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    • No apologies needed, its your book. I am confused about Dr. Seuss. He did not write books with more than 400 words (according to an article I read–in a legit magazine one can trust) and he only used 40 or so words per book. What was longer? I really would like to know. I thought I had all of his books. Wasn’t Beatrice Potter more of a chapter book.

      I like you Matthew. You have a great sense of humor, you take criticism in stride, and even consider suggestions. Your story is good and I love the ending. No other ending could be better. Send us your next children’s book. For a graduate of M.I.T., you did good. (not sure what I mean by this, so just go with it) 🙂

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    • I like the idea of the Native American names and I like the idea that kids will learn something from the names. But when reading the book, especially out loud, I no longer like the idea. Those names can be brutal on the tongue of a non-native. Mine has yet to right itself. 🙂

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    • With all due respect to those who self-publish, most of the loooong text picture books come from first-time authors publishing themselves, most likely without a good editor on board. I have yet to read a traditionally published picture book, from this century, with more than 1000 words, and usually less. A lot less. One last year had 26 words and another used only 4 words. Of course, those are extremes, but it is the extreme I wish self-publishers would move towards. I have a big rant about some of this stuff that is better left off the comments. 🙂 Hi, Cupcake!

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