Pokko and the Drum

An amphibious heroine literally marches to the beat of her own drum in this first authored picture book from Canadian illustrator Matthew Forsythe (The Brilliant Deep with Kate Messner).

As parents throughout history have done, Pokko the anthropomorphic frog's indulgent but conservative parents ruin their own peace and quiet by giving their child a musical instrument. The noise of Pokko's drum fills their mushroom house until her father asks her to play outside, quietly, without drawing attention. Pokko makes a token effort, but as soon as she taps her drum softly "just to keep herself company," she attracts other woodland musicians. After a rocky start in which Pokko scolds a wolf groupie for eating a rabbit trumpeter, the band attracts a parade of fans who follow her home. During a surprise crowd-surfing incident, Pokko's father realizes his daughter is "pretty good," though no one can hear him over the racket of the entire forest enjoying her music.

Pokko's expressive eyes speak volumes while her immobile mouth gives her an air of determination. Forsythe's warm and earth-toned color palette and the animals' geometric print wardrobes evoke a sunny, retro feel. Laugh-out-loud funny with a subtle dark side, Forsythe's quirky homage to individuality reminds readers to display their authentic selves proudly, even if it means casting off convention. When sharing this ode to creativity and confidence, have child-friendly instruments ready in case of spontaneous parades. Crowd-surfing not required. --Jaclyn Fulwood, youth services manager at Main Branch, Dayton Metro Library

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