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4.20  ·  Rating details ·  258 ratings  ·  64 reviews
A frog sits peacefully in a meadow. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, he is attacked by an umbrella-wielding mouse in a confrontation that quickly turns into a full-scale war. "A strong anti-war message and lithe, incandescent artwork propel this affecting wordless picture book".--"Publishers Weekly". ...more
Paperback, 48 pages
Published August 1st 1998 by NorthSouth (first published 1996)
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Average rating 4.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  258 ratings  ·  64 reviews

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Oct 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A frog and a mouse go to war over . . . well, does the reason ever really matter?

Popov makes a fine commentary on the futility of war without ever uttering a word.

The Russian author, who survived Nazi bombardment of his little town as a child, recalls the incident, and how it influenced his later philosophy in a stirring author's note at the end of the book.
Fiona Hill
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ks2, ks1, picturebooks
B E A U tiful! Great message showing children that war and violence is the not the answer.
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is amazing! My first experience with a wordless book. Powerful!
Graeme Crooke
A violent war breaks out between frogs and mice over precious resources.

Implied reader

To gain the most from the text the read needs basic understanding and prior knowledge of warfare and how disagreements can begin and escalate quickly into some that was never intended.


War, dispute, sharing, violence, footwear, reflections, learning from mistakes, citizenship, history, understanding, environment, socio-political issues, geography, art, RE, feeling, emotional well-being.

What techniqu
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What did I understand from this book?
This book really opened my eyes to the political messages and power that books can display to children. Another view brought forward the idea that Why? is about Conflict and resolution. Something that is heavily politically and socially topical at the moment.

How might this be relevant to teaching and learning?
• Current events- For discussions activities in KS2- in order to help children understand or have a view on the events happening in the world now or
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s, politics
Warning: I'm about to take a picture book way too seriously.
This is a picture book with no words that depicts the rising escalation of violence that can occur for seemingly no reason, and ultimately helps no one.
The book begins with a frog quietly and happily sniffing a flower. A mouse comes and beats up the frog and take the flower. The frog and mouse are sitting in a field with identical flowers. The frogs friends beat up the mouse and take his umbrella, filling it with flowers. So the mouse
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Spent some time in the Children's Literature Center today due to a suspicious vehicle outside of the library. My friend in the European division showed me the book saying, "it gets really sad" and oh my goodness. No words in the book but it depicts such violence, it could only be summed up as Russian. It would be interesting to have a child's perspective on the book, and if they would understand the unspoken. ...more
Jenni McReddie
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book tells a simple story of war, which can be interpreted as the reader pleases. I was so moved by this book, I would love to use it with a range of year groups, perhaps during PSHE, and see the reactions.
Adeline Gravell
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: animals, bereavement, war
A great wordless pictures that can be interpreted by the reader about the war. Can be use in the classroom to teach children about the different sides and how the war affected the different sides lives.
Miss Davey
Nov 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why? by Nikolai Popov

Popov was born in 1938 in central Russia, where war entered quickyly into his life. As a child Popov would play with his friends in a scene of war unknowningly. The book was created to provide children with understanding of the 'senselessness' of war and how anyone can be lead into a 'cycle of voilence'. Overall the author wants to address the futility of war.

The book has no words only pictures which allows for the reader to think about what is happening with noth
May 04, 2012 rated it really liked it

When I came across this book I thought it was rather unique, l was drawn in by the title which is ‘Why?' l found it rather intriguing and wanted to find out more. This book is essentially a picture book with no wording, with interesting pictures which adds something different as well as the drawings which are rather detailed. I think this book could work well in promoting speech as children could look at the pictures and based on the imagery they see, they could then discuss what they think the
Stephanie Weatherly
Feb 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: text-set
Why? is a fascinating book that focuses on how fights or wars can get started with unkind, selfish actions. The story deals with two sides - the frogs and the mice. The fight begins when a mouse with an umbrella decides to ambush a frog in order to steal the flower he is holding. The frog retaliates by stealing the mouse's umbrella. Before we know it, there are many mice and many frogs fighting each other, most likely not remembering why any of the fighting started. The story ends with the beaut ...more
Feb 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
This is a children's book with no words.

That allows the child to look at the pictures and create a story that matches them. The illustrations are beautiful and I like the idea of letting a child create the words they choose.

However, I'm not fond of the story. A frog finds a flower. A rat fights the frog and takes the flower. The frog takes the rat's umbrella and fills it with flowers. This progresses until there is an all out war between armed armies of rats and frogs until there's nothing lef
This is a beautiful book, but it really surprised me: I saw the pretty picture of a frog on the cover, and just thought it'd be a cute kids' book. It is full of beautiful illustrations - it turns out though to be allegory about the ravages of war. In this case, there is a devastating war between the frogs and the mice. Told all in pictures, the book is very effective.

An author's note at the end for adult readers explains Popov's history as a child in Russia when it was bombed by the Nazis. "I h
Amelia Rees-Williams
Brief Summary
A violent war between mice and frogs over precious resources.

Implied Reader
To gain the most from the text the reader needs a basic understanding and prior knowledge of war fair and how disagreement can begin and escalate quickly into something that was never intended.

War, dispute, sharing, violence, death, citizenship, reflections,learning from mistakes, history, geography, politics

What techniques
Use of colour to portray emotions, all quite muted. Distinct difference in colour
The Styling Librarian
Why? By Nikolai Popov:
1. Wordless picture book.
2. Brilliant
3. Gorgeous illustrations
4. Powerful message
5. Generated 10 minutes of conversation with a 6 y.o. about pointlessness of war
6. Cannot wait to share this with others
7. Perfect provocation for PYP actions/consequences unit
8. Lovely author note that child requested to have read aloud to understand author intention better
9. I love this book and am so glad my new library assistant told me about it
10. I believe this will be my new “you must ha
Apr 28, 2012 rated it liked it
It is a word less picture book with detailed drawings. It allows children to expand their imagination by making up their own story.
Features of the book and how it can be used with younger children in the curriculum:
This book could be used in an English lesson because the children could make up their own storyline, it could also be used in art where the children could draw using the same type of techniques.
Aug 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
I found this book to be a valuable way to open a discussion on the idea of what happens when we make assumptions without talking about our fears of unknown others. Years after I first saw the American edition, I saw an edition from another country, and was surprised to see that there was a complete story written in text whereas the American edition was wordless.
Hannah Betley
Nov 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure how I feel about this book, I found it quite hard to get into it. It is a very touching story with lovely illustrations. I think that this book can be used in a pshe lesson to teach children about friendship and being nice to others. ...more
Dec 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture
Senseless warfare is even sadder when it involves cute little animals who smile as they blow up the world.
Clare Gilligan
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picturebook, war
This is a fantastic book which shows that war is not always helpful. The beautiful illustrations show to the reader how something so small as being jealous can escalate into something much bigger.
Mrs Heidrich
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This picture book (wordless) made me realise that not all picture books are aimed at young children as this one is aimed more at lower and upper KS2 as it has the theme of war in it. The frog is sitting peacefully when a mouse tries to steal something from him and this brings on a full-scale war, with deaths at the end from both the frogs and the mice. After understanding the pictures, it is obvious that the title of the story reflects the writer's thoughts on war as if almost questioning why it ...more
Nabeela Ahmed
A story of pictures.
We see how a frog, while sitting peacefully on a rock with its flower, is suddenly and violently ambushed by a mouse holding a yellow umbrella. The reader witnesses the escalation, from a small argument to a bloody war!

I think the discussion surrounding war, conflict, rights as well as the power of images can be a good use of this book in a KS2 classroom!
Can children tell their own stories about the same issues through images? Maybe a different theme can be used? Can we expre
Ellie  Flude
Oct 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This book with no words allows for the reader to make up the words to the story using the illustrations alone. It tells the story of a war involving a frog and a mouse fighting over a flower.

I like the message of how a small unnecessary confrontation can result in something larger and more serious. The question begs- why? Was it necessary/worth it in the end? Did you gain anything from it?

I think this would be great for discussion work (PHSE) with children, gathering opinions and even reenacti
Ryan Brinn
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, it was a very intelligent way of depicting war from the perspective of a mouse and a frog, it showed how their needless fight begins over a desire for particular resources or territory and quickly escalates to cause major destruction by the end of the book. This outlines through powerful imagery the need to forgive and forget, being able to share or compromise before real damage is done.
Amazingly crafted with no words! Definitely recommend!
Lianne Goates
Oct 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pb
Powerful anti-war picture book showing how violence escalates. Makes you wonder how the outcome could have been changed. Yes, Mouse should not have attacked frog and stolen his flower, but should frog have reacted differently and would that have caused Mouse to act differently or would Mouse continue to seize frog's flowers no matter what? Heavy stuff. ...more
Louise Hare
Oct 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
When reading the book I was initially confused due to how the story progresses quite suddenly and in a very dramatic way. Upon reading the authors notes at the end this is explained and the whole meaning of the story changes which I love. It makes you think reflectively and impacts your view on certain social topics.
James Neal
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: animals
An interesting take on war and conflict. Demonstrates the complete lunacy of war and conflict where there is no purpose, although looked at in our 'Picturebooks for older readers' session I would use it across key stages as an introductory book. ...more
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2018 Roe Reading ...: Why? 1 1 Oct 01, 2019 03:13AM  
Should it be wordless or have words? 2 9 Aug 14, 2008 06:49PM  

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