Bei Lynne, transl. Helen Wang. New Zealand: Gecko Press, pb, 978 1 7765 7278 6, 2021, £7.99, 80pp.
Picture book, fiction, 4-7 years
Bibbit is a little frog who loves to jump – anytime, anywhere. He will even try staying in bed for a day in the hopes he will save up jumps in order to jump even higher. Mind you there is a problem with jumping into the water until Bibbit remembers the fun he had as a tadpole…
These gentle stories might be about a little frog and his sister, but they reflect both the logic of the very youngest and the sort of everyday event that to a child are satisfying adventures. The final story in the collection is longer than the previous ones and mirrors the growing independence of a child moving out of the familiar with all the questions that bounce around inside, being brave, and then looking back to see home – realising that it is also part of a much wider world. Then there is the relationship with his sister, Little Frog. She may be a little annoying but she is his best supporter, and when she needs him, he is there.
Translated from the Chinese, by Helen Wang the language is instantly accessible and contemporary – a pleasure to read, especially aloud. The charming, lively illustrations by the author capture the quirky humour of the narrative through vignettes that decorate almost every page while the enormity of the journey to the city demands lucid full-page images. Not only that, Bibbit bounces into the book and finally, bounces out with Little Frog beside him. Here illustration and text walk (or jump) side by side to perfection.
Review by FMH