by David Badger
I don't think I ever read a book about frogs before this one. I found it at a library sale and was attracted by the stunning photographs by John Netherton. Frogs is, of course, all about frogs and toads. It's full of interesting facts and observations, including quotes referencing frogs and toads in literary works - Shakespeare, Aristophanes, Beatrix Potter, Kenneth Grahame, Emily Dickinson and many others. Not all the species are represented (there being over five thousand known!) but many of the more common, beautiful and curious ones are featured here. I learned lots of stuff about frogs and toads- that they were the first land animals with vocal chords, that they have teeth, that some remain in the tadpole stage for two years before metamorphosizing into an adult! There is a marsupial frog that carries its eggs in a brood pouch, a breed of frog where the male carries the eggs until they hatch (like a seahorse!) and another that carries its eggs inside its vocal sac. Some don't hop or leap but only walk. There's even a flying frog that can glide short distances on the outstretched membranes between its long toes. I did not know before that frogs not only absorb water through their skins, but also oxygen, and besides the poison-dart frogs that exude strong toxins from their skins, there are some frogs that can withstand having sixty percent of their body fluids freeze during hibernation because they produce antifreeze components. Another amazing fact is that some frogs can change their skin color, like a chameleon. Those little slimy frogs sure are incredible creatures. I have to say the most bizarre one featured in this book is by far the surinam toad. And the descriptions of their various calls- from the stereotypical ribbit (which only one frog species actually utters, according to this book) to sounding like the mewing of a cat, bleating of a lamb, bellowing of an ox, singing of a bird, etc- had me on youtube listening to different frog voices. Well, if you've any interest in frog and toads, this is definitely a book to pick up. The pictures are awesome.
I read this one for the What An Animal Challenge.
Rating: 3/5 ........ 142 pages, 1995