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INTEREST LEVEL: Age 8+
READING LEVEL: Grade 3+
LEXILE LEVEL: GN 220
GUIDED READING LEVEL: K
AUTHOR: David Nytra
DIMENSIONS: 6" x 9"
SERIES: The Leah and Alan Adventures
About the Book
When Leah and Alan awaken in an enchanted forest, they have only each other and their wits to guide them. In a world full of pet bees and giant rabbits, they befriend foppish lions and stone frogs. Learning to overcome danger, they find their way home—and their independence.
Newcomer David Nytra’s breathtaking pictures break the boundaries of imagination, sending the reader on a wild flight of fantasy that tells a moving and universal coming of age story.
For more of the Leah and Alan Adventures...
Our Secret of the Stone Frog Common Core Guide contains the ELA Common Core Standards and a Lesson Plan to support standards-based instruction in the classroom. Our free guides for the TOON Graphics are designed by a team of passionate literacy experts who specialize in classroom instruction for grades 4-5.
About the Author
David Nytra has been drawing since he was old enough to hold a pencil. The Secret of the Stone Frog is his first children’s book. Though his own dreams are often unexciting and he’s only a little bit allergic to bees, he loved books with many creatures in them as a child and he hopes he has put enough beasties in here to satisfy even the most demanding reader.
“Winsor McKay was a comics pioneer whose early experimentation with the form nearly predated the form itself. McKay’s spirit, along with his dream-inspired imagery, lives on through Nytra, whose remarkable debut taps into the same unearthly environment with a similarly enchanting effect…The extraordinarily delicate and fine-lined art incorporates touches of manga aesthetic so that, like the story itself, it merges timeless narrative elements to craft something wonderfully innovative. TOON took a chance on a brand-new talent to create the first of their ever-so-slightly more mature graphic novel line and it’s paid off with a smashing success.”
“The Secret of the Stone Frog is the first graphic novel for children from newcomer David Nytra. This book seems to be steeped in various traditions from children’s literature, making it at once new, yet familiar. Anthropomorphic animals, delightful and peculiar worlds, and adventure in a dream are just a few of the traditions that Nytra draws from. Siblings Leah and Alan wake up one morning and are surprised to find themselves in the middle of an enchanted forest. As they are wondering how to get home, a stone frog speaks up and offers to be their guide. On their journey home, the brother and sister travel through a strange and spectacular world, not unlike Alice in Wonderland, where they encounter fantastic creatures at every turn…you feel like you know them from somewhere but you’re not quite sure where, and you wish you could spend some more time with them. Not surprisingly, readers are drawn into the fantasy world right from the very first panel…Nytra masterfully uses black and white to enhance the feeling of the story; some panels are light and whimsical while others are dark and frightening. Simple dialogue makes this book accessible for young readers in grades two and three, although older children that are fond of fantasy are also likely to enjoy this charming book.”
--The Deakin Review of Children’s Literature
“This is definitely art to pore over, and evidently it’s the debut children’s book from Nytra, who lives in Canada. Holy moly, I hope we see more from him soon.”
--Seven Impossible Things
“Although aimed at children, The Secret of the Stone Frog by David Nytra can be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates a good fantasy adventure and whimsical black-and-white artwork…this graphic novel does have a Wonderland-like quality to it. Although a simple story, The Secret of the Stone Frog has wonderful depth and the end is very open to interpretation, leaving me looking for at least one last panel. This is a book that can be enjoyed by both children and parents alike.”
“Young Alan and his older sister Leah travel home through a peculiar fantasy land in this remarkable graphic novel about growing up. B&W pen and ink illustrations depict a surreal Victorian setting, a vibrant mix of formality and weirdness that easily holds a reader’s interest. Slow passages build tension and allow readers to absorb the visual oddities, while fast passages add excitement. Despite the young age of the hero, intermediate elementary readers will identify with this quirky, affecting escape down a rabbit hole.”
--Library Media Connection
“[A]n ambitious book, a cross between Alice in Wonderland and Little Nemo in style and concept.”
“The Secret of the Stone Frog is a masterpiece.
Teachers can use this comic to demonstrate how current fiction borrows from the classic – which hits on the common core standards: RL.8.9. Analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events, or character types from myths, traditional stories, or religious works such as the Bible, including describing how the material is rendered new.”
--School Library Journal
“A fantastic adventure, this bittersweet chimera will leave you breathless.”
“The book is beautiful to look at and carries the line’s usual sterling production values.”
“It’s not book candy…it’s more like sushi for the young book gourmand.”
"Confident younger readers will enjoy this adventure just as much as older children...Readers will continue to make connections to it long after they've closed its sumptuous covers."
-- From Tots to Teens, Susan Murray
“The intricate flowerings and soulfully etched forest backgrounds of the art make the black-and-white pages sing as though they were drawn in a rainbow of colors…Nytra’s serene ending manages to be worthy of its glorious beginning…A beguiling experience that deserves multiple immersions.”
“Though black and white, the world is better realized than many full-color paintings. Dappled sunlight through trees and shadows on subway tiles are faithfully conveyed with nothing but masterly little black dashes. But Alan and Leah have to wake up, and Leah has to graduate from her own room away from her little brother. The story is a catalog of their time together, and perhaps of the books parents might have read themselves when they were younger. It could be a great way to introduce kids to the masterpieces of the past. Or you could just enjoy the book on its own merits. There are plenty of them.”
--The New York Times
“A beautiful, surreal storybook.”
--The A.V. Club
“TOON Books has a plan to make readers out of your kids: give them wonderful comic books written for young readers.”
“Like Lewis Carroll’s works, it’s a frightening tale, but most really good fairy tales are. The really great thing about a story like this is it can truly be enjoyed by children of all ages. This is one book I know I’ll be re-reading.”
“Even at this advanced point in the decades-long flowering of the graphic novel, both in public esteem and in mainstream publishers’ plans, David Nytra’s The Secret of the Stone Frog stands out as a remarkable book, one that accomplishes something I don’t remember seeing any other similar work manage.”
--Comic Book Resources
“This is a real joy to read and I’m already eager to see more.”
--Read About Comics
“A beautifully confident debut piece, exquisitely suited to black and white, evoking so much our children will be thrilled by, and so much we’ll recognize.”
--Forbidden Planet International
“This book is absolutely beautiful from cover to cover.”
--Books 4 Your Kids
“There is nothing better than a book that will surprise and delight you. That’s guaranteed in this graphic novel..”
--Waking Brain Cells
“Nytra’s book is perfect for intense little kids with a dark streak and the grown-ups who read to them.”
--North Adams Transcript
“Do they even make pen nibs as small as Nytra must require them to be? Or does he draw his subjects on enormous sheets of parchment paper then shrink them down to size in post? I don’t know and the book isn’t saying. However he does it, the results are magnificent.…Honestly, this is truly a book worth discovering. Beautiful to the core.”
--School Library Journal
“Fans of the art of Tenniel and his modern descendants (Maurice Sendak, Charles Vess) will find much to admire in this U.S. debut.”
“This book has a very Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland feel to it….The dialogue is fairly simple and the story easy to follow; the art is a huge part of telling the story. Younger readers will love all the animals (the fish subway is my favorite part; it’s so different than anything I’ve seen before) and the adventure…The really great thing about a story like this is it can truly be enjoyed by children of all ages. This is one book I know I’ll be re-reading.”