Morphing Murphy by Robert Favretto

cover image

Illus. by Tull Suwannakit. Ford St Publishing, 2019. ISBN: 9781925804324. 32pp.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Murphy the tadpole loves life in his weedy pond. He swims around and around all day long. But one day he notices two tiny bumps near his tail. He is concerned and tries to shake them off, but they grow into legs. His new legs give him extra speed and maneuverability, but then, two more bumps sprout near his gills. These become front legs which allow him to steer and get food. All is good, and life goes back to normal again, but then, his tail disappears. He is aghast and tries hard to find it, but notices that without a tail he can jump out of the water and breathe the air.
The metamorphosis of the tadpole to a frog is complete, and readers will not only have an endearing story of Murphy and his concern about change, they will learn the stages a tadpole goes through to become a frog, finding out all the benefits that accrue, and see that change is a good thing, saying goodbye to the old and welcoming the new.
The patterning of the words make it an excellent read aloud, with children quickly picking up the repeated refrains and calling them out with the reader.
The repetition of 'life is good, I won't change a thing' is followed by 'But the', alerting readers to another change in Murphy's body. They will turn the pages with eager anticipation seeing how Murphy's body is transforming. And of course, the wonderful twist at the end of the tale will have readers laughing out loud, recalling lots of stories about frogs and the myths about them.
Suwannakit's wonderful water colour illustrations recall the green weedy pond, with other small animals hiding in the watery plants in Murphy's world. I love the pages after a new appendage has developed showing Murphy scrambling all over the pages trying to shake off the new growth. The pages are full of movement as the text follows the little tadpole, highlighting for the reader the dismay Murphy is feeling at change.
Suwannakit is a Melbourne based illustrator known for his Sad, the dog and Thimble.
Favretto lives near Melbourne and has several funny vampire books for middle primary people published.
And new words will be introduced focussing on the word, 'morphing' used in the title, encouraging readers to thinks about what it means and where it comes from. Teacher's notes are available.
Themes: Frogs, Tadpoles, Change, Metamorphosis.
Fran Knight