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Tadpole's Promise

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  411 ratings  ·  165 reviews
Where the willow tree meets the water, a tadpole met a caterpillar.

They gazed into each other's tiny eyes...and fell in love.

"I love everything about you," said the caterpillar.

"Promise you'll never change." And foolishly the tadpole promised...

But we all know that tadpoles don't stay the same, and neither do caterpillars.

Will they still be able to love each other?

Hardcover, 32 pages
Published May 17th 2005 by Atheneum Books
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Best Ending
165th out of 980 books — 1,758 voters
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Best Picture Books Ever
44th out of 53 books — 5 voters

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Community Reviews

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I am a currently a LSA in a SEN school and this book was to read to six year five pupils. I have chosen this book to review due to the unexpected ending, which is unusual for the majority of children’s books of this type. The book was chosen as it covers the topic of change, the current curriculum topic theme. The story also has good cross curricular links to science with a life cycle theme and PSHE with issues such as separation anxiety and death. This book in my opinion is also an excellent re ...more
Not for the faint-at-heart adult, but great for every child with a sadistic side (and what child doesn't have a hidden or not-so-hidden sadistic side), including every first-grade boy in the world. I read with a high, squeaky voice for the caterpillar and a low, stopped-up-nose voice for the tadpole. Read around Valentine's Day, if possible...introduce by asking who likes mushy love stories, then tell them that this isn't one. Great when paired with a lesson on life cycles. Read aloud to the gro ...more
Big Book Little Book

A rainbow and a pearl fell in love. The rainbow requested her beloved pearl, to promise to never change. Unfortunately Pearl was destined to break his promise, as he was a tadpole and his love Rainbow, a caterpillar.

Obviously not a fan of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 (“...Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds...” ) Rainbow becomes increasingly distressed and peeved at the physical changes she observes in her beau each time they meet. Pear
Ciaran Mcnamee
This is the story of the friendship between a tadpole and a caterpillar. The caterpillar tells the tadpole that she loves him the way he is. He promises her that he will never change. However, throughout the book the tadpole is unable to keep his promise as he matures into a frog. The book has a tragi-comic ending in which the frog eats his friend, while waiting for her to return, because he fails to recognise that she has matured into a butterfly!

I enjoyed this book and think it would be great
I liked this book and although its not the best book for cross-curricular links I think it is an excellent resource for Science sessions. It could be used after a session of pond dippping at the farm, as it covers the topic of life cycle.

It is a story of a tadpole who falls in love with a caterpillar, they make a prommise to eachother that they will never change. Not long after making that promise, the tadpole begins to alter in appearance as he turns into a frog. The caterpillar becomes very di
Emily Hughes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A wonderful and unpredictable tale about the love between a tadpole and a caterpillar.
They both take a vowel to never change. But as time goes by nature takes its course and the tadpole matures into a ribbeting frog!
At the same time the butterfly matures too!
One day the frog is sitting on his lily pad and sees a scrumptious butterfly and he quickly gobbles it up....

The next day he sits and waits for his love.

what has he done?
Read the book to find out!

I absolutely enjoyed this book. Its got humo
I went to a workshop on books boys will want to read. This is one of the many titles that the presenter turned me on to.

The book is very simple. The format is great, the pictures are fun, but the story is the real selling point. The story progresses between a tadpole and caterpillar that have fallen in love. But as the tadpole begins to change, the butterfly doubts that he is seriously in love. The end of the book is hilarious and totally caught me off guard.

I have read this to my fifth grader
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The other reviews say it better than I can. The shocking ending is hilarious, but I really wanted it to be a nice story about inner beauty. Recommended for adults - but read it yourself before sharing it with little ones. The pragmatic approach to relationships is refreshing, though. As Shel Silverstein reminds us (more tactfully) in the superb The Missing Piece, not everyone is going to find a fairy-tale style Happily Ever After.
Taye Adegbite
Tadpole’s promise
This is a story about a black shiny Tadpole and a Caterpillar who meets and fall in love with each other. They love their looks and the caterpillar ask the tadpole to make a promise to her that he will never change which he foolishly accept. As the day flies by, Tadpole is unable to keep to his promise as a result of the changes so this leads to the pair breaking up. Looking more like a frog now, he sits and wonders where her beautiful friend is. The butterfly approaches to ask
Rhian Niblett
I first heard about Tadpole's Promise at the Reading for Pleasure day at UEL. The book is seemingly a romance book about a tadpole and a caterpiller that fall in love. However, in this book, the romance element is turned on its head. The caterpillar asks the tadpole to never change and gets annoyed when he does. As an adult, I found the book to be very humourous,as I knowing the life cycle of a tadpole and a caterpiller, it is impossible for them to never change. The ending is also extremely sur ...more
Katie Cooper
This is the best picture book EVER. I found this sometime in college when I was student teaching and I read it to my high school senior students. They were baffled, saddened and confused. Eighteen year old boys said, "That's messed up." Ever since then I've read it to all the classes I taught. I've read it to my boyfriend, roommates, and several coworkers. I need to carry a copy of it with me in my car, because you never know when you'll find a chance to read it to someone. SO GOOD.
This book is a riot! Kids just aren't going to "get it" and that's OK, but there are some wonderful life/love lessons here that they'll recognize later on ... Love is sweet ... Love transcends challenges ... We are going to change and we just can't help it ... Lovers can be selfish ... Love forgives ... Unrequited love happens ... It's hard to pass up a good lunch ...
Tasneem  Zafer
We had this book discussed in one of the philosophy thinking sessions. Analyzing it was pretty interesting but i think it's a bit too abstract or complex for children younger than 4th grade!
The ending was meanly SHOCKING to absolutely everyone.. Soooo unexpected !

I loved the drawings, they're very simple and and colors are beautifully childish !
Tadpole's Promise is a picture book written by Jeanne Willis, and illustrated by Tony Ross. The story focuses on the love between a tadpole and a caterpillar and how the changes they both go through affect their relationship. This leads to a surprising and fantastic ending which I will not reveal as, to do so, would undermine the enjoyment of the story which builds up to this ending. Although this story can be enjoyed by young children (4-8 years old) some of them, for reasons which will come cl ...more
So, story to me reading this book. I was pulling some books on animals that live in the water/air for a patron to read to a group of preschoolers when I spotted this one. I thought it would be a book that showed the life cycle of a frog so I flipped though it. I discovered that it was about a tadpole and a caterpillar who fall in love. It combined the both of the patrons requests, perfect! I kept reading through curious to see how it ended. The caterpillar is upset when the tadpole starts to cha ...more
Tadpole's promise, is a good presentation to the subject of love across a divide. We are introduced to two characters from the outset, and their attraction to one another. Will it work? Who knows. It's a chance for children to go on a journey of discovery and question whether the two characters will be able to see things through.

In my opinion, this book gives children the great chance to ask questions of themselves, adults and the world around them. It will appeal to younger children in Years 2
Nayhara Sepulcri
A tadpole meets a caterpillar and they fall in love. She was his beautiful rainbow and the caterpillar loves everything about her shiny black pearl. "Promise that you will never change," she says. But as sure as the seasons pass, the tadpole could not keep his promise - his legs grow, and then his arms. And what happens to his beautiful rainbow? As he sits on a lily pad, digesting a butterfly, the changed tadpole little realises that now he will never know!

The strange romance between a caterpill
This book is hilarious! I've got a little twist to my sense of humor though. Not sure I'd read it to my kids.... :)
I think that this is my favorite picture book to read aloud! Hysterical!
Shenaz Begum
I read this book to reception class children under the projector. We were doing growth as our class topic and i felt this book would be a nice story to read as part of my plenary. Surely enough the children were able to relate and connect the learning they have been doing about frogs and caterpillars to this story. They were able to use the story to extend their learning, make predictions and they eagerly anticipated the end. They were fully engaged and i was able to assess the children's learni ...more
Absolutely love this gem of a story; illustrations extend beyond the words, letting children construct their own stories & the lyrical prose is captivatingly perfect for reading aloud. I've read some of the reviews on here regarding the humorous twist to this love story, and I'm obviously a fan. While we each must make our own choice regarding appropriateness, I'd like to say that we adults often underestimate the resilient nature of children & their ability to love a story for its own s ...more
Sarah Herranen
This book honestly took me by surprise. It was adorable, however, the ending was a little shocking, especially for a children's book. This story was about a tadpole and a caterpillar falling in love. They fell in love when they were young and their bodies were still immature. The caterpillar called her love a black pearl and the tadpole called his love a rainbow. The caterpillar asked the tadpole to promise to never change. Unfortunately, as the seasons grew on he broke his promise three times b ...more
Ambreen Bilgrami
The tadpoles promise follows a caterpillar and a tadpole who fall in love. They both make a promise to each other to never change. However, “just as the wind changes” the tadpole unavoidably transforms into a frog. The caterpillar cannot believe her beloved tadpole has broken his promise and so eventually leaves him in sheer disappointment only to cry herself to sleep.
However, again just as the weather changes the caterpillar finds herself to have transformed into a butterfly. She eventually acc
I really liked this book until the end! I was expecting them to fall in love again in the new and changed forms but no Tadpole just eats Caterpillar right up! Other than the ending awesome book!


There is a tadpole and a caterpillar and they fall in love. The caterpillar tells the tadpole he must never change though. The next time they see each other the tadpole has grown legs. The caterpillar gets upset and tells him he must promise her again that he will never change. The next time they
Laurie Dole
I am pairing Tadpole’s Promise with Yummy. This picture book sums up the lost opportunity and importance of choice I found in Yummy. The two characters, Tadpole and Yummy, are looking for happiness outside of themselves, leading to tragedy.

I would recommend this book as a companion piece for studying missed opportunity and character choices. I also think middle school readers would appreciate the irony of this predator/prey relationship.

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"Where the willow meets the water a tadpole met a caterpillar"... He is her 'shiney black pearl' and she his 'beautiful rainbow'. They instantly fall in love and the caterpillar makes the tadpole promise he will never change, but as sure as the seasons change the tadpole gradually turns into a frog! The heartbroken caterpillar forgives him the first time when he grows legs, gives him a second chance when he grows arms but draws the line after the third time he breaks his promise when he loses hi ...more
Michael Mccaul
This story see a second Princess set of in a mission to usurp her sister the first sister so she would no longer be second. Needless to say she gets into a whole lot of bother before her parents show themselves to be a deft hand at politics in finding just the right compromise that solved the problem. This story like many for this age range (5-7) has very useful lessons for children that could help in their day to day socialisation. I think I would use this to begin a circle time session.
A love story with a twist. Simple enough that younger children understand, yet enough depth that older children can explore a variety of issues that the engaging story raises.

The book could be effectively used to making links to both science (life cycles, habitats, seasons..) and PHSE (promises, friendship, love, forgiveness...) at both KS1 and KS2. With a short punchy story, teachers could easily use this story as a hook to engage children before learning is extended.
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Jeanne Willis was born in St Albans and trained as an advertising copywriter at Watford College. She worked for various agencies creating press adverts and TV, cinema and radio commercials. She is now a full-time writer and has published over 80 books. Her hobbies include gardening, reading (non-fiction), natural history and collecting caterpillars. Jeanne has also worked on scripts for TV, includ ...more
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