As I was writing a review for Upstairs Mouse, Downstairs Mole by Herbert Wong Yee, which is dedicated to friends of Frog and Toad, I realized that, even though most everyone is familiar with Frog and Toad, I mention them so often in reviews that they deserve their own review/tribute. Arnold Lobel is an author, illustrator, Caldecott winner for Fables in 1980, Caldecott Honor winner for Frog and Toad are Friends, and a Newbery Honor winner for Frog and Toad Together. He was also married to the colorfully unique illustrator and author, Anita Lobel and they collaborated on the Caldecott Honor winning ABC book, On Market St Like James Marshall, Lobel died at a young age and left a relatively small library of books behind. There are less than twenty books written and illustrated by Lobel in print today. Besides Frog and Toad, two of my favorites that are seared into my memory from childhood are The Ice Cream ConeCoot and Other Rare Birds and Miss Suzy, which was written by Miriam B. Young. Miss Suzy is still in print, but The Ice Cream Cone Coot is not. You can, however, see some brilliant illustrations from it at John Rozum's blog.
Why have Frog and Toad had such staying power for over almost forty years now? And which one is frog and which one is toad? This is how I remember them - Toad is the neurotic, self-centered one and Frog is the calm, thoughtful one. I guess you can also tell them apart because Toad is short and brown and Frog is tall and green. They are opposites of sorts. Not exactly the black and white, good and evil forces from fairy tales, but resonant in their amphibian-ish humanity. Toad learns the lessons of an unfair, random and sometimes cruel world and Frog stands by, helping Toad through his his dilemmas and difficulties, sometimes giving him the extra push he needs.
And, of course, Lobel's Caldecott winning Fables and Caldecott Honor winner illustrated by his wife, Anita Lobel, On Market Street.