Robert's Reviews > Tadpole's Promise

Tadpole's Promise by Jeanne Willis
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's review
Jul 18, 12

Read in July, 2012

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 resource for teaching and recognising other people’s emotions, of which pupils with SEN may experience difficulty with.

The book’s story is based around a caterpillar and a tadpole who fall in love. The caterpillar asks the tadpole to promise that he will never change; the tadpole intends to keep this promise. However, each time they meet the tadpole changes by growing legs, arms and by losing his tail, eventually turning into a frog. At each stage both the caterpillar and tadpole are unaware of why these changes are happening and the caterpillar believes the tadpole is breaking his promise by changing each time. After each change, the caterpillar forgives the tadpole for changing whilst still declaring her love for him and forgiving him. The ultimate twist of this story is that the tadpole eventually evolves into a frog whilst the caterpillar turns into a butterfly and the frog jumps out of the water and eats the butterfly! The frog then sits alone waiting for the caterpillar to return, unbeknown to the frog she will never return as he has just eaten her.

The illustrations within this book are excellent and demonstrate to the reader what is happening on each page, especially when the tadpole grew arms and legs to display these changes. The illustrations also complement the text by showing the emotions of each character such as the caterpillar crying and the tadpole looking concerned as to the rationale why. The layout of this book is also unique compared to other books as it has a “flipchart”/”calendar layout”. The top pages show the caterpillar on the branches of trees whilst the bottom page displays the tadpole living in the water. This illustrated clearly the layout of the scenarios.

The text contains repetition and this is essential for teaching pupils to read and develop vocabulary. The text contains clear and concise sentences that portray what emotions the characters are experiencing in each scenario. The text also contains suitable adjectives, of which we are trying to teach a pupil to expand on in her writing and to develop her vocabulary.

We also used an activity to coincide with the reading of this book. The class had templates of the tadpole’s head, arms and legs and at each stage of the book the pupils added the different parts of the body using glue as the story progressed. This portrayed to the pupils in a visual way the life cycle of a tadpole before it evolves into a frog.

Although this book was read to year five pupils, this book was created for pupils of lower key stages. Therefore, I was surprised to see such an ending as the majority of children’s stories have a "happy ending", of which this one did not. One may conclude this should be a rationale of why I disliked the book however; this would be incorrect as this is not how life is for everyone. This book examines how animals change and introduces to children that life may always not have a happy ending and two people with feelings for each other may not always last. Ultimately this book introduces death and separation anxiety, something which other children’s books of this type rarely explore and dare to cover.
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