When it comes to children’s media, today’s market is brimming with fairytales. Whether you’re watching the latest Disney princess movie or reading a modern retelling of a classic tale, it’s a good time to be a fan. Children and parents alike love these feel-good stories, knowing that in the end, the princess kisses the frog, he transforms back into a prince, and the two live happily ever after.

But what if the two of them were both frogs in the first place? What if, in the end, the hero’s magic transformation wasn’t a physical change, but an emotional one?

In his story, The Tale of Ferdinand Frog (Austin Macauley Publishers UK), Mark Hughes takes the classic fairytale formula and transforms it into something new. Instead of setting his story in a faraway castle, Hughes takes us to the banks of Happiness Lake, where our animal protagonists dwell. But while the characters of this tale range from scaly to slimy, their emotions and struggles are universal. 

The title character Ferdinand Frog is (you guessed it) a frog living on the edge of the lake, happily swimming in its waters. But all is not right in Ferdinand’s world. He’s always been far too shy to speak to the beautiful Felicity Fogmore-Frog, a fellow creature of the riverbank. Now it seems he’s too late, because Samuel the slippery snake is determined to make Felicity his own. As Ferdinand tells his friend Wrinkleskin the Rat, “this must not be allowed. The problem is what can I do? A frog is no match for a snake.”

The two of them decide to travel through the treacherous Many-a-Mile woods in the hopes of finding Osmiroid, a wise owl who will surely know the answer to defeating Samuel. But when Ferdinand finally reaches Osmiroid, he’s shocked to hear the owl’s advice. It seems that sometimes, the solution to our problems is not an outside force, but rather the strength inside ourselves.

A RHYMING GOOD TIME

While Ferdinand faces a daunting task, Hughes’s writing never skips a beat. The entire book is made up of eight-line poems that flow seamlessly together. The author even includes some witty asides about each of the characters, adding to the fabric of the story. In the book’s melodic rhythm, Hughes describes how “[Ferdinand] sang all day in the sunshine, and he croaked in the light of the moon / to a discerning ear, a horrible sound, to a frog — a wonderful tune.” Mike Church’s stunning illustrations elevate Hughes’s writing and give us a glimpse at the beauty of Happiness Lake.

At 58 pages, The Tale of Ferdinand Frog is a good challenge for young readers looking to increase their word count. The book is also a great choice for a read-aloud bedtime story, and takes about half an hour to read through.

This charming tale manages to be both fresh and timeless, combining lovable new characters in a classic fairytale framework. By putting his own spin on a traditional tale, Hughes creates his own unique narrative and ensures that his story will find a way into your heart. The Tale of Ferdinand Frog will undoubtedly continue to grace shelves as readers resonate with this courageous amphibian.

Buy this book!

Mark Hughes is a semi-retired businessman and entrepreneur who has mixed his business career with a part-time career as a musician and songwriter, playing worldwide at religious and spiritual festivals, delivering a message of peace and love. His ability to weave stories into songs led to the writing of The Tale of Ferdinand Frog and other similarly magical rhyming stories. His other interests are family and sport. He resides in Essex in Southeast England with his wife and three daughters.

Mike Church has drawn and painted all his life. Post College, he found himself Freelancing in the Animation Industry, where he started at the bottom in Paint and Trace, becoming a Background and Layout Artist, Animation Assistant, Renderer and Designer. Latterly, he illustrated full-time for a Branding and Packaging Agency in central London for several years. Now Freelance, and with an armoury of techniques to produce warm, shiny imagery in a wide variety of styles, and he is looking forward to some interesting challenges. Mike works on a Wacom Cintiq using Illustrator, Photoshop, Corel Painter and TV Paint. Sometimes he gets to use traditional media like watercolours for a specific look.