“Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasure, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious.” St. Thomas Aquinas
Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel tells the story of two faithful friends who encounter both everyday experiences and an exciting adventure. Their friendship is as strong as another well known pair, Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh. Every chapter is filled with special moments that only true friends can share.
Friendship is complicated. It covers so many needs and emotions that each friendship is quite unique. The reader will find Frog and Toad endearing and their relationship exceptional and heartwarming. Each of the five chapters illustrates the relationship that these two friends share and the qualities that make a good friend.
Patience – On their first adventure, Toad makes a list of things to do throughout the day. He is extremely locked into this list so he does not see there are other possibilities for the day. When the list blows away, Toad is so stuck that he does not even chase his list because it isn’t on his list. Frog demonstrates a cheerful patience as he tries to get the list for him, but unfortunately he is not successful. Then Frog waits without complaint while Toad ponders what his next step should be. When Toad remembers the last item on his list is to ‘Go to Sleep,’ Frog just says, “I am glad.”
Generosity and Encouragement – Toad admires the bounty in Frog’s garden and compliments him. He wants to start his own garden so Frog generously shares some seeds. When the seeds don’t grow immediately Toad does everything he can to coax them. He yells at them, reads to them, sings songs to them, and plays music for them but with no success. Frog offers some good advice about growing seeds and calmly gives Toad encouragement, but he doesn’t laugh at Toad’s lack of experience. He lets Toad learn the lesson he needs in order to have a wonderful garden.
Sharing Time and Strength in Temptation – The chapter entitled “Cookies” makes me smile every time I read it because I believe most of us have experienced something similar. Toad makes a large batch of cookies and then he shares them with Frog. The friends eat and spend some special time together. While they visit they eat and eat until they decide it’s time to practice some will power and stop eating. (Sound familiar?) They discuss and try different plans to fortify their resolve. Frog puts the cookies in a box, then wraps the box with string, and finally puts the box on a high shelf out of the way. Each time Frog secures the cookies a little more, Toad explains how easy it is to get to the cookies. In the end they let birds eat the cookies so they will not be tempted any longer. Frog explains that now they will have lots and lots of will power. Toad tells Frog he can keep the will power. He is going home to bake a cake! Well, maybe this lesson will have to be learned again and again.
Bravery and Support – Then there is a test of their bravery. Frog and Toad wonder if they are brave so they decide to go on a quest to test their courage. They face scary situations like: a hungry snake, an avalanche, and a fierce looking hawk. All the while each one insists, “I am not afraid.” Frog and Toad give support like true friends and do not abandon the other while facing each danger. Once they are safely home each one declares, “I’m glad I have a brave friend like you.”
Faithfulness – The last chapter of the book is about a dream which has a lot of symbolism. In the dream, Toad is on a stage performing and receiving many accolades. The voice of the announcer loudly compliments the talents of Toad and flatters him as he performs. Frog is in the audience applauding and encouraging Toad as always. The more recognition and praise Toad receives the smaller Frog becomes until he finally disappears. Toad realizes he has forgotten about his friend in all his success and says, “Come back. I will be lonely.” The dream turned nightmare ends when Frog goes to Toad’s house and wakes him. Toad is overjoyed the dream is over and Frog is actually there. All is well and they spend the rest of the day together. What a lesson!
- Toad says, “Shut up,” to the voice in his dream. This is said when the voice keeps getting louder and Toad realizes he cannot see Frog in the audience any longer.
- Discuss definition of true bravery. Give examples of people who are brave in today’s society (firemen, doctors, policemen, pilots, priests, mothers, fathers, etc.).
- Make a list of traits that your child would like to see in a friend (honest, funny, likes the same things, etc.) As time goes on revisit the list to cross off traits that are not really important or add new ideas. Ask what traits their special friends have. Ask what traits your child thinks he [she] possesses to be a good friend to others. Later, this list of traits can be refined and used by a young adult when discerning a relationship.
- Plant seeds to see how long they actually take to sprout. Discuss what a plant needs to grow – water, sun, good soil.
- Make cookies with your child and share them with friends or someone your child would like to have as a friend.
- As friends become more important, parents have a responsibility to carefully watch what friends may influence their children. This petition prayer to the Blessed Mother is one from a Mother’s Manuel (prayer book).
For a Child’s Wise Choice of Companions
Dear Mother Mary, my child is beginning to move away from my complete supervision, and that is natural. It will mean so much for him [her] to have wholesome, good companions, boys and girls. From now on I must, of necessity, leave much of his [her] choice though I also know that I must keep a watchful, loving care. You realize – better than I do – how precious my child’s soul is and how bad companions can ruin it. So, with me, dear Mother, ask your Son, who once was young, too, to guide my son [daughter] in the choice of each and every friend.
Guardian Angel Prayer for Friends
watch over those whose names you can read in my heart.
Guard over them with every care
and make their way easy and their labours fruitful.
Dry their tears if they weep;
sanctify their joys;
raise their courage if they weaken;
restore their hope if they lose heart,
their health if they be ill,
truth if they err,
repentance if they fail.
- Definition of bravery – Virtue of bravery in facing difficulties, especially in overcoming the fear of consequences in doing good. As moral courage, it enables a person to pursue a course deemed right, through which one may incur contempt, disapproval, or opprobrium. As physical courage, it is simply bodily or emotional strength to withstand opposition.
from Fr. John Hardon’s, Modern Catholic Dictionary