“A wise man once said, ‘To be an adult is to be a little sad all the time,’ ” begins the Author’s Note to “Frog and Toad Are Doing Their Best: Bedtime Stories for Trying Times” (Running Press). “That was me, stress eating inside my small apartment during the worst year on record. When I wasn’t panicking, I’d escape my reality by envisioning a gentler world. A kinder world. A world inhabited by talking animals.
. . . Because these days, adults need bedtime stories, too.”
The book by Jennie Egerdie (beautifully illustrated by Ellie Hajdu), takes Arnold Lobel’s beloved childhood characters Frog and Toad into modern times, where they grapple with working from home, spotty WiFi, getting in the requisite Fitbit steps, obsessive online ordering (the garage is filled with the detritus of cardboard boxes), and financial woes (in one vignette, a stroll to the ATM reveals that the balance in Toad’s checking account is $16.)
You will recognize these situations, and you will find them gently hilarious because they are being experienced by adorable talking animals. It’s loosely about pandemic times, in that they are on Zoom, obsessively shopping and dealing with bouts of anxiety, but it is never explicitly mentioned. Frog and Toad are happily not on lockdown, and they leave the house to go to restaurants, hat shopping and such. Still, everyone will find certain vignettes very much a reminder of the past year and a half.
In “Technology is Hard for Frog and Toad”: “‘I have so much work to do,’ sighed Toad. He set his Zoom background to a picture of his room when it was tidy. ‘There,’ said Toad. ‘Now I am ready for the day.’ ”
In “Wi-Fi”: “Toad was writing an email. Suddenly, the Wi-Fi disconnected. Toad restarted his computer. The Wi-Fi still was not working. ‘Frog,’ Toad yelled to the other room. ‘The Wi-Fi is not working.’ ‘That is strange,’ Frog called back. ‘It is working for me.’”
“Through Frog and Toad, I began to see my own challenges as temporary,” writes Egerdie. “Insignificant moments in my life became grand adventures. I see myself in Frog and Toad and I hope you do, too.”