by David Nytra

Reviewer Rating:
1

Review

The illustrations in The Secret of the Stone Frog are fantastic. Detailed, intriguing, and layered, they are the best part of the book. Unfortunately, the story they help tell and the characters they visualize are in many ways so clichéd and lacking in depth as to make the entire endeavor feel like a waste of potential.

David Nytra pulls from any number of inspirations, from classic folklore and fairy tales to Hayao Miyazaki's "Spirited Away" to J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan to, most obviously, Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. The two main characters, siblings Leah and Alan, awake to find themselves in a forest. They are told by a stone frog that if they want to get home they must follow the path behind it and not stray. Of course, in the first of many such examples, stray from the path is the first thing Alan wants to do, and Leah, lacking any kind of backbone or resolve despite her more evident common sense, goes along with it. On their journey "home" the pair meet giant, word-stealing bees, foppish lions, enormous friendly rabbits, fish-headed Victorian commuters, a pick-pocket who could have come straight from Dickens, and buildings and streets which come alive in nightmarish fashion when angered.

If you're looking for visual representation of fantasy, look no further - as I said, the illustrations are fantastic in every sense of the word. If you're looking for good story-telling or characterization however, try some of the references I listed above instead, because if you want or need character and plot to enjoy a story, you won't find them here.

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