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Literature / Frog and Toad

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A series of children's books by Arnold Lobel, concerning the adventures of Frog and Toad, who are friends.

The series consists of:

  • Frog and Toad are Friends (1970) (Caldecott Honor award)
  • Frog and Toad Together (1972) (Newbery Honor award)
  • Frog and Toad All Year (1976)
  • Days with Frog and Toad (1979)

There is a musical adaptation called A Year with Frog and Toad. The stories were animated for The BBC schools programme Words and Pictures.

There is also an Animated Adaptation of two Frog and Toad books, made by Churchill Films in 1985, and voiced by Will Ryan and Hal Smith.


This series provides examples of:

  • Ambiguously Gay:
    • Frog and Toad have several moments where they act more like partners than friends. However, their orientation and nature of their friendship is forever shrouded in ambiguity because of the fact that Arnold Lobel died of AIDS complications before he could get the chance to elaborate on the nature of Frog and Toad's relationship.
    • Lobel's daughter has commented that her father came out as gay a few years after he wrote the first Frog and Toad book; she theorizes that writing the book, with its close friends of the same sex, was the beginning of that process for him.
  • The Atoner: Toad, being more prone to losing his temper than Frog, is equally prone to try to find a way to amend his mistakes, be it giving Frog his coat after they spend the day looking for a lost button or being extra kind to his seeds after he yells at them.
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  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Frog and Toad wear jackets and trousers, but no shoes. Interestingly, when they go swimming, Toad wears a bathing suit but Frog does not.
  • Caretaker Reversal: In one of the books, Toad tries to cheer up Frog because he's sick, but tires himself out from the effort. By the time Frog is feeling better, Toad is so exhausted that the two switch places.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Frog and Toad themselves are only shown eating human foods such as cookies, ice cream, and sandwiches. However, being eaten by predators is a legitimate fear for them.
  • Civilized Animal: Frog and Toad live in human-like houses, wear clothes, and eat cookies and ice cream. However, they are also realistically scaled against other animals and objects in their environment, and fear predators such as snakes and hawks.
  • Conforming OOC Moment: At the end of the chapter "The Swim" in Frog and Toad Are Friends, Toad reluctantly comes out of the water, revealing his embarrassing swimsuit. A turtle, some lizards, a snake, a field mouse, and even Frog laugh at him, which is strange since Frog is often more sympathetic to Toad's plights.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Toad tries to enact this trope by gathering several items with which to rescue Frog, who Toad imagines to be in great danger. Frog is just fine.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In "Ice Cream," Frog comments that some ice cream would be just the thing to cool down on a hot summer's day. Toad rushes to the local store and purchases two cones, but fails to accommodate for the sun melting them; by the time he returns to Frog, he's not only covered in melted chocolate, but has picked up various detritus along the way. Once Frog helps him wash off, they realize that they should go to the store together and eat the ice cream there.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Frog is a frog. Toad is a toad. According to John Clark Matthews, who animated the stop-motion adaptation, he once asked Lobel why he didn't give them actual names. Lobel didn't respond well to the query.
    Matthews: There was a pause while his furnace heated up. Then he exploded: "Yeah, sure! Frank the Frog! Tom the Toad! Sid the Snail! (etc!)" I felt like a small bug with a tiny brain. But mostly he was a sweet guy - if you didn't ask too many questions.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: It's the story about a frog and a toad who, per the title of the first book, are friends.
  • Green Around the Gills:
    Toad said, "Frog, you are looking quite green."
    "But I always look green," said Frog. "I am a frog."
    "Today you look very green even for a frog," said Toad.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Frog and Toad are stated multiple times to have a great friendship, do favors for one another, and stick together through thick and thin. It helps that, beyond Frog mentioning a mother and father from his childhood, there's no reference to any other family or friends beyond a few other woodland creatures they chat with.
  • Jerkass: The three robins from "The Kite" taunt Toad whenever he tries flying a kite, making fun of him and telling him to give up. Fortunately, Toad gets his kite flying so high that the robins can't catch up.
  • Mouse World: Despite being anthropomorphized, Frog and Toad are realistically sized compared to the other animals in their setting.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: In Toad's dream, he dreams he is the greatest toad in the world. With each act onstage, Frog gets smaller and smaller until he eventually disappears. Toad realizes he is now alone. He wakes up, and Frog is just fine.
  • Obsessed Are the Listmakers: In "The List", a story in Frog and Toad Together, Toad makes a list of things to do and sticks to it so rigidly that when the wind blows the list away, he refuses to chase after it because chasing the list wasn't on his list of things to do. Heck, neither of them feel like they can do anything, because they can't quite remember what was on the list. Eventually, when the sun sets, Toad remembers that "go to sleep" was on the list. They write that on the ground, cross it out, and go to sleep right there.
  • Old-Timey Bathing Suit: One story revolves around Toad wearing one of these and trying to not be seen while wearing it.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Toad is more selfish and irritable while Frog is more relaxed and easygoing.
  • Seeking the Intangible: In one book, one of the eponymous amphibians is told that spring is just around the corner. He looks behind literal corners for "spring", and by the time he's ready to give up, spring has already arrived.
  • Shrug of God: An in-universe example: Frog refuses to reveal if the scary story he tells in "The Shivers" is true or not.
  • Sick Episode: "The Story" has Frog getting sick, so Toad decides to let him rest and tries to come up with a story. He walks on the porch, stands on his head, pours water on his head, and bangs his head against the wall to try and think one up. But he ends up getting a headache, while Frog (who now feels better) tells Toad a story, which is all that's described in the chapter.
  • Stealth Pun: In the story "The Letter", it's shown that the postal worker for the woodland creatures is a snail. Get it? Snail Mail.
  • Streisand Effect: In-universe. Toad has Frog ask a turtle to leave the pond they're swimming in because he doesn't want it to see how funny he looks in his Old-Timey Bathing Suit. It backfires in that not only does the turtle not leave when asked, but the other animals hear about it and gather round because they now want to see Toad's funny-looking suit.
  • Talking Animal: Essentially all the other animals in the stories except Frog and Toad (who are more Civilized Animals). May or may not simply be Animal Talk, as humans never show up in the series.
  • Tempting Cookie Jar: In "Cookies," Frog and Toad try to stop themselves from eating too many cookies by putting them in a box, but they keep opening up the box and eating cookies anyway. After some failed attempts at making the box increasingly inaccessible (tying the box up with string, putting the tied-up box on a high shelf, and so on), Frog throws the cookies to the birds to teach Toad about the importance of willpower.


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