If you’ve been following A State of Wonder for any length of time, you have probably noticed that I am very keen on animal-fiction. And if you’ve ever read The Wind in The Willows, Redwall, or The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, you’ll recognize that the critters in those beloved tales are more than just ornamental skins on otherwise human characters. No, the most beloved animal characters are distinctly other, allowing them to embellish the best and worst traits of our humanity.
Children love animal stories because they allow them to bravely rush into frightful places where they ordinarily wouldn’t dare to tread. Think of the timeless collection of Aesop’s Fables. The stakes are much lower when children can read adventures occurring in the animal kingdom — though they may be no less epic, young readers can feel safe knowing that the dangers are somehow otherworldly.
Adults too can find great satisfaction in the reading of animal-fiction because of what these stories teach us about being human. Think Watership Down. But most of all, this special sub-genre allows for a certain sweetness to be infused to its often fantastical story-telling. Well told animal stories are inherently charming — its baked into their DNA.
Though my family weren’t farmers, I had the privilege of growing up on a picturesque farm property in rural Ontario. And hidden behind our white, wooden driveshed, was a small patch of wetlands. This glorious little muskeg was just small enough that adults could be excused for overlooking it. But a child’s eyes can perceive such features with a different level of utility than a grown-up’s might, for an abundance of frogs and turtles would pay me visit from the bosom of that swampy paradise.
Given my upbringing, it might come as no surprise that the topic of my first book should revolve around the backyard critters which I had so much joy catching in my formative years.
Frog of Arcadia is the story of Thomas, an escaped terrarium toad who finds himself in the middle of a civil feud between rival frog clans and a lost kingdom yet to be restored. Thomas wrestles with the tension of being a toad of two worlds, and learns that pride can overtake anyone, and that even victory can defeat the victor. Through this amphibious tale, the reader is reminded of timeless morals, some that he may have forgotten, and of the divine order which holds it all together.
In my thinly-veiled hope that you would read Frog of Arcadia for yourself, I have included one of the more insightful endorsements it has received to date.
“In his fanciful novella, Frog of Arcadia, Blake Bobechko brings new life to the proverb “you reap what you sow” in a manner that will resonate with readers both young and old.
Replete with charming illustrations, delightful song lyrics and numerous echoes of Renaissance mythology, Bobechko’s Frog of Arcadia is certainly an engaging reading experience. However, it is his inventive and humorous narrative voice that impresses most as we follow the heroic journey of a well-read Frog who embarks on a transformative adventure.
Additionally, it is difficult to think of a more whimsical, accessible tale that may inspire readers to further pilgrimages into what Canadian literary critic, Northrop Frye, might identify as the archetypes - rooted in the imagination itself - of Western art and literature.
Timeless and timely, Frog of Arcadia is an enchanting and epic parable that will give readers both young and old pause to appreciate the things in life that truly matter most.”
— Endorsement by John MacDonald, Retired Head of the English Department at Brebeuf College, Toronto Catholic District School Board
Have you read Frog of Arcadia? If not, it might be the perfect addition to your summer reading list. Its available from all major book retailers and in all formats. And please do drop me a line if you pick up a copy! I love hearing from new people who have enjoyed my book.
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