Friday, June 14, 2013


This afternoon, I was wandering through Tattered Cover. I told myself that I was NOT going to buy books, I was simply going to buy a coffee and listen to an author. If I really, really, really liked her book, I might consider buying it. But I was definitely not going to buy any other books today. My resolve held firm until I found THE MYSTERY OF DARWIN'S FROG, written by Marty Crump, a Utah herpetologist, and illustrated by Steve Jenkins and Edel Rodriguez.

Crump invites readers into the world of scientists, tracing the evolution of the body of knowledge about a tiny frog with a pointed noise, who was discovered by Charles Darwin in Chile in 1834. After watching this frog for several decades, scientists made an interesting discovery. The frog, who they first assumed was the mother, held its tadpoles in its mouth. After further research, scientists determined that the holder of the babies was actually the father, who slurps up the eggs, or sometimes the baby tadpoles, a few minutes after they are born, holds them inside his vocal sac, feeds them with the lining of his vocal sac for approximately two months, and then opens his mouth and burps up the young frogs.

There is so, so, so much to love about this book. First, it's full, full, full of interesting information, first about frogs, but then also about the work of scientists. I loved learning how generations of scientists built upon each other's work, gradually accumulating more and more knowledge about this strange but wonderful species. I also loved learning about Crump's process-- her questions and wonderings, and how she and her niece went to Chile and studied the frogs. I loved the gorgeous full color photographs, taken, I'm pretty sure, by Crump, and the watercolor paintings of the scientists. And of course I loved Steve Jenkins' collages (but so I don't mislead you, most of the book is illustrated with photographs, which perfectly match the text, there are only four or five illustrations by Jenkins).

I really was not going to buy books tonight, but this is one I have to own!

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