Sunday, April 22, 2012

It's Elementary: The Hop review

Today is Earth Day, and I feel like reviewing The Hop by Sharelle Byars Moranville is a great way to honor it.

Checkouts: Not owned by the library.
Source: I found an Advance Reader's Copy (ARC) at Snowbound Books.  The ARC was free and I am not paid for this review.

Synopsis: Tad is a toad whose home, Toadville-by-Tumbledown, is in grave danger of being destroyed by a monstrous earth-eating machine.  Taylor is a girl whose grandmother lives by a beautiful pond that is going to be filled in to make room for a strip mall.  Tad and Taylor's paths cross as they both try to save what they love.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars

Usually with ARCs, you miss out on the illustrations, pictures, maps, and other visual aids of a book.  Not so with the ARC of The Hop, and I'm so glad.  The illustrations by Niki Daly are perfect.  They not only complement, they complete the story written by Ms. Moranville.  The drawings add a lot of charm to the book, too.

The narrative itself is great.  Most of the chapters alternate between focusing on Tad and Taylor, in third-person limited.  Each has a distinct feel, and Tad's thoughts are toad-like without being insultingly simple (for an example of oversimplified animal narrative, try The Case of the Library Monster, reviewed earlier this month).  It's fun reading about how close the two are to meeting up several times, yet missing each other, until everything comes together.

This is a retelling of the folktale "The Frog Prince," but it's different and unique enough to be interesting.  And that goes beyond the fact that Tad is a toad, not a frog!  Taylor wins her royal title in a competition.  Tad doesn't want to be a human for the long run, and in fact doesn't know that this will be a side-effect of kissing a queen to save his home.  Also, there's some wonderful conservation leanings to the tale.

If there's one issue I have with the book, it's the pacing.  There are plenty of red herrings, twists of fate, and near-misses.  I think a child could easily get frustrated, and tire of the book.  Know your child or student's attention span before recommending this one.

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